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Post date: November 13 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrests Of Doctor And Nurse In Alleged Fraud Scheme In Dutchess County Affecting Hundreds Of Homebound Elderly

Doctor Charged With Billing Medicare And Medicaid More Than $50,000 For Physician Services Performed By Nurse

Schneiderman: Health Care Workers Have A Duty To Care For Their Patients And Not To Abuse A System That Ensures Care For The Poor And Elderly

PEARL RIVER – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office filed felony complaints against and arrested Jeanine Santiago, a medical doctor, and Wendy Potter, a registered nurse, on charges that they conspired for Potter to provide physician services to hundreds of Santiago’s elderly and infirm homebound patients. Filed in Dutchess County’s Town of Wappinger Justice Court, the court papers allege that Santiago gave Potter blank and pre-signed prescription slips issued in Santiago’s name and that Potter, in her sole discretion, filled out the prescriptions, including for powerful narcotics, and gave them to Santiago’s patients. Santiago is further charged with defrauding Medicare of more than $50,000 and Medicaid more than $1,000 by submitting claims for more expensive physician services which were in fact provided by a nurse. 

“Doctors making house calls is a noble practice. Doctors stealing money and allowing home-bound patients to be treated by an untrained and unlicensed assistant is not,” Attorney General Schneiderman said.  “There has to be one set of rules for everyone, particularly when the health and well-being of our elderly citizens is at stake and how our taxpayer dollars are spent.  My Office will hold accountable those who disregard such rules.” 

Santiago’s practice was located in Dutchess County, where she and Potter treated in excess of 300 patients, most of them elderly. From 2008 through 2013, Potter worked for Santiago treating patients in their homes. As part of the treatment rendered by Potter, she is accused of fraudulently issuing prescriptions for powerful narcotics, including morphine and oxycodone. 

The felony complaint charges Santiago, 52, of Wappinger, N.Y., with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony; Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, and Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, class E felonies. In a separate felony complaint, Wendy Potter, 50, of Fishkill, N.Y., is charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession. If convicted on the top counts, Santiago faces up to 5 to 15 years and Potter faces up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison.

Judge Heather L. Kitchen of the Town of Wappinger Justice Court arraigned the defendants yesterday and set bail in the amount of $1,000 dollars cash or $2,000 bond for both defendants. 

The charges come after an 16 month joint investigation with the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and the New York State Police. The Attorney General thanked the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement for its assistance during the investigation.   

The investigation was conducted by Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) Special Investigator Peter Olsen, along with Special Auditors/Investigators John Annunziata and Christopher Giacoia with the assistance of Supervising Investigator Peter Markiewicz, Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan and Regional Chief Auditor John Regan.  

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Susan Bloom with the assistance of Regional Director Anne Jardine. Thomas O’Hanlon is MFCU’s Chief of Criminal Investigations – Downstate.  MFCU is led by Acting Director Amy Held.  The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan. 

The charges in the criminal complaints are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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