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Post date: June 17 2009

Attorney General Cuomo Secures Guilty Plea From Licensed Practical Nurse Who Stole More Than $40,000 From Medicaid

NEW YORK, NY (June 17, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the guilty plea of a licensed practical nurse who stole more than $40,000 from Medicaid by billing for services she did not perform. The conviction stems from “Operation Home Alone,” Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing investigation into the home health care industry.

“Medicaid exists to provide financial support for those in need, not to subsidize Caribbean cruises for criminals,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Taxpayers deserve nothing less than an all-out effort to deter health care providers from stealing from Medicaid, and my office will continue to aggressively pursue fraud at all levels in the home care industry.”

From January 2008 to September 2008, Denise Dent, 45, of Bay Shore, New York, falsely claimed that she provided more than $40,000 of home nursing services to a developmentally disabled child residing in Suffolk County. The Attorney General’s office examined Medicaid records and compared them to Dent’s travel and billing records. The investigation found that Dent received Medicaid payment for services she claimed she provided from March 16 to March 28, 2008, when travel records revealed she was actually on a Caribbean cruise. Dent also billed Medicaid while the child was on a Make-A-Wish Foundation trip without her.

In addition, Dent received Medicaid payment for 20 hours worth of nursing services per shift, but her nursing notes indicated she only rendered 10 hours of care per shift, or she had no notes to document that she provided any care at all. Dent also billed Medicaid for a second Medicaid recipient during a period when that recipient was hospitalized and Dent’s nursing services were neither authorized nor rendered.

Dent pleaded guilty today in Suffolk County District Court to grand larceny in the fourth degree, a class E felony. Judge Gaetan B. Lozito adjourned sentencing until August 19, 2009. As part of her plea agreement, Dent will repay restitution in the amount of $43,724.

Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing investigation into the home health care industry, known as “Operation Home Alone,” has uncovered thousands of fraudulent home health aide certifications and led to the convictions of dozens of uncertified aides, registered nurses, managers of schools that provided false certifications, agencies that employed aides and nurses, and Medicaid recipients complicit in no-show billing schemes. In many of those cases, the aides and nurses were found to have been billing for services they did not provide, providing and billing for services despite lack of proper training and certification, and billing through more than one agency at a time in order to be paid for as much as 36 hours in one day.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General James Clarke of Attorney General Cuomo’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Hauppauge Regional Office. Associate Special Auditor Investigator Joanna-Joy Volo performed the audit work and Senior Special Investigator Richard Seibert conducted investigative work in the case.