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Post date: September 30 2008

Attorney General Cuomo Obtains Guilty Plea From State Employee For Stealing From Suny Upstate Hospital

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (September 30, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that two individuals, including a state employee, pleaded guilty for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to steal more than $118,000 from SUNY Upstate Medical Center.

Dennis Clavelli and Scott Rivenburgh pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the third degree (class D felony) for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to steal more than $118,000 from SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. Clavelli, 48, formerly of Oswego, was a manager in the hospital’s Clinical Engineering Department. He allegedly conspired with Scott Rivenburgh, 42, of Doyle Road in Baldwinsville, who operated an aftermarket medical business, and Michael Lembo, a technician working for Clavelli, to create invoices and work orders for equipment that was never repaired or replaced.

The scheme allegedly began when Rivenburgh offered a “cut” to Clavelli and Lembo for any business sent his way. In total, the hospital paid more than $118,000 to Rivenburgh’s company for fraudulent invoices. Clavelli and Rivenburgh received $51,569 and $47,098, respectively, from the deal.

“It is reprehensible for public employees, like Mr. Clavelli, to participate in fraudulent schemes to steal from the state,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Taxpayer dollars must be used to help those who need it most and not squandered by corrupt individuals looking to pad their pockets on the State’s dime.”

Clavelli and Rivenburgh pleaded guilty before Judge Anthony Aloi in Onondaga County Court.
Third degree grand larceny carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Both are scheduled to be sentenced on January 9, 2009. Lembo was charged with grand larceny in the second degree, falsifying business records, and bribe receiving, and his case is pending in Onondaga County Court.

Clavelli and Lembo no longer work at the hospital.

SUNY Upstate became suspicious when hospital technicians discovered that a failed cable they were sent to repair was listed on hospital records as recently replaced. The cable was extremely worn and clearly never replaced. The hospital conducted an internal audit into similar items, which revealed that a series of invoices to Scott Rivenburgh’s companies, “Clinequip” and “Clinical Engineering Services,” matched work orders and letters signed by Clavelli.

The invoices also revealed parts listed that did not fit the equipment to be repaired and prices out of line with normal aftermarket parts. Additionally, some of the invoices were for sophisticated X-ray equipment which could only be repaired under sterile conditions – a job Clinequip was unable to perform.

The Attorney General’s examination of Rivenburgh and his company’s records revealed that Rivenburgh allegedly used a false name when operating his Clinequip business and also listed other fictitious names as repairmen on the fraudulent invoices. Clinequip’s records failed to show that the company had ever purchased or shipped the items listed in the invoices.

There was no indication of any harm caused to patients by the fraudulent scheme.

The charges against Lembo are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The audit and investigation in this case was conducted by Senior Special Investigator Thaddeus Kaczor, Supervising Special Auditor and Investigator Thomas Goodman, Special Auditor and Investigator Julie Lalonde, and Special Auditor and Investigator Christine Rhody. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Paul R. Berry under the supervision of Office of the Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Syracuse Regional Director Ralph D. Tortora, III.