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Post date: June 26 2007

Medicaid Service Coordinator Pleads Guilty To Stealing $94,000 From Taxpayers

ALBANY, NY (June 26, 2007) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the conviction of a Medicaid Service Coordinator who was unqualified to perform services and submitted false records for services she never provided, costing Medicaid and taxpayers more than $94,000.

“Medicaid Service Coordinators play a critical role in the well-being of many recipients,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “We count on them to do their jobs and help those who need it most. When someone takes advantage of that position to cheat taxpayers and fails to perform their duties, my office will prosecute to protect New York’s taxpayers.”

Kelly A. Strade, 35, of Claremont Ave. in Tonawanda, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (both class E felonies) before Judge Penny M. Wolfgang in Erie County State Supreme Court. If convicted, she faces 1 1/3-to-4 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for September 4 at 9:30 a.m.

Medicaid Service Coordination is provided through the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) to assist persons with developmental disabilities and mental retardation in gaining a good home, job, rewarding circle of friends, enjoyable leisure activities and access to needed medical and clinical services. In order to qualify for Medicaid reimbursement, the services must be provided by a qualified Medicaid Service Coordinator with either an Associate’s Degree or a Registered Nurse’s license.

In January 2004, Strade was hired by Aspire of Western New York, Inc., based upon her false claim that she had received a nursing degree from Lycoming College in Pennsylvania. Strade worked as a Medicaid Service Coordinator for Aspire until February 2006, when it was discovered that she had no such degree. Aspire reported this to OMRDD and the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit commenced an audit-investigation, which determined that because of Strade’s deception, Medicaid paid Aspire $94,696.97 for services that did not qualify for reimbursement.

Additionally, she forged signatures and falsely recorded face-to-face visits with recipients for services never provided – leading Aspire to bill Medicaid for services that never took place. In particular, she claimed to provide services to a Medicaid recipient at the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia that never took place.

Cuomo thanked OMRDD and the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia for their assistance during the audit-investigation. The audit-investigation was conducted by Special Assistant Attorney General Gary A. Baldauf, Deputy Director-in-charge of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Buffalo Regional Office; Senior Special Investigator Kathleen Donahue under the supervision of Supervising Special Investigator DeWayne Baker; and Supervising Special Auditor Investigator Raymond August under the supervision of Principal Special Auditor Investigator Jerry Higgins.