A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Westchester Nonprofit Executive In Scheme Involving State Program To Assist Seniors And The Disabled

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Westchester Nonprofit Executive In Scheme Involving State Program To Assist Seniors And The Disabled

PEARL RIVER – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Darlington Odidika, 47, of Poughkeepsie, the Executive Director of Systems and Abilities, Inc., a Yonkers-based nonprofit that specialized in securing state-funded service contracts that provided construction and moving services to the elderly and disabled to allow them to move from nursing homes back into the community. Odidika and Systems and Abilities, Inc. were charged with rigging contractors’ bids, demanding kickbacks from sub-contractors and defrauding Medicaid of more than $50,000

“Stealing from a program that enables seniors and the disabled to live at home and not in an institutional setting is deplorable,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Those individuals who steal from this program not only steal from New York taxpayers, but risk depriving others of the opportunity to live among loved ones in the comfort of their own communities. My office will vigorously pursue those individuals and companies who line their pockets with monies designated to help our most vulnerable citizens.”

Systems and Abilities, Inc. was an enrolled provider in the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion Program (“NHTD Program”), a New York State Department of Health program that provides senior citizens and those suffering from physical disabilities alternatives to institutional living. Through the NHTD Program, Medicaid pays for renovations to the homes of the elderly and disabled, such as wheelchair accessibility ramps, widening of doorways and installation of grab bars, that allow individuals to remain in their homes rather than remain or be transferred to a nursing home or rehabilitation facility. Medicaid also pays for moving expenses and basic home furnishings for individuals transitioning from a nursing home or rehabilitation center back into their homes. Systems and Abilities and Odidika, as its Executive Director, contracted with the Department of Health and its agents to facilitate the provision of, and directly provide, nursing home transition and diversion services to Medicaid recipients in Westchester and surrounding counties.

As part of the program, Systems and Abilities often arranged for contractors to provide modifications to the homes of qualified Medicaid recipients through a required bid process and then billed Medicaid for the cost of the project, plus an administrative fee, based upon the final costs of the projects. However, as alleged in the complaint filed in Yonkers City Court, between August 31, 2009 and November 30, 2011, Odidika, on behalf of Systems and Abilities, frequently falsified bids for NHTD Program projects and submitted them to agents of the Department of Health. By falsifying these bids, Odidika was able to control which contractor won the bid. He then used the falsified bid to inflate the amount Medicaid paid Systems and Abilities as its share of the project.

According to the complaint, Odidika also demanded and received kickbacks from a NHTD Program project contractor. Odidika told the contractor that he would have to provide the kickbacks to Odidika if he wanted to win any NHTD Program bids. Odidika then falsified other bids to ensure that this contractor submitted the winning bid. Finally, Odidika filed claims in the transition program for moving expenses which were either never provided or significantly inflated over the actual costs.

Odidika and Systems and Abilities are each charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony; five counts each of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a class D felony, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony; and ten counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony.

Odidika was arrested and arraigned today before the Honorable Michael Martinelli in Yonkers City Court. He was released with bail set at $25,000 cash or bond. If convicted on the top count, Odidika faces up to fifteen years in prison.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by Investigator Timothy Connolly, Principal Special Auditor Investigator Ann Winslow with the assistance of Supervising Investigator Peter Markiewicz, Chief of Downstate Investigations Kenneth Morgan and Assistant Chief Auditor Investigator John Regan.

Special Assistant Attorney General William McClarnon of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Pearl River Regional Office is prosecuting the case. Anne Jardine is the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Regional Director. Thomas O’Hanlon is the Chief of Criminal Investigations-Downstate. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is led by Acting Director Amy Held. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.