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Post date: June 10 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrests Of Six NYC And Westchester Home Health Aides Charged With Defrauding Medicaid

The Individuals Allegedly Faked Credentials; Impersonated Certified Home Health Aides; And Received No Show Jobs; Four Allegedly Defrauded The Program Out Of Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars

Schneiderman: Health Care Workers Must Not Jeopardize Those They Care For; Our Important Medicaid Dollars Must Go To Help Those In Need

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrests of six home health care workers who worked in the Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond and Westchester Counties accused of defrauding the New York State Medicaid Program, either directly or through a Medicaid managed care plan. The defendants are charged separately, including allegations against four of them for defrauding the program of more than $30,000. They were arrested and charged with a variety of felonies, including identity theft, grand larceny and possession of forged documents for faking home-health care credentials and submitting false billings for services which were never rendered.   

“Every New Yorker must play by the same set of rules, especially those who are trusted to help our most vulnerable citizens,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Anyone who seeks to line their own pockets by defrauding the programs that serve our most vulnerable will be caught and will be met with the full force of the law.”

The six individuals were arrested yesterday, and were charged with a variety of alleged Medicaid fraud schemes.

  • Fake home-health aide credentials:

Two of the individuals arrested, Agatha Preemph, 53, and Mavis Adu Brempong, 22, both of Bronx, are accused of purchasing fake home-health aide credentials. They are both charged with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a class D felony, in violation of Penal Law §170.25. If convicted, they face up to seven years in state prison.

The court documents allege that:

  • In October 2012, Prempeh presented a forged home-health aide certificate in an attempt to obtain employment at Crickett Care in Ossining, in Westchester County. She later admitted that she did not attend the underlying training as reflected on the certificate and that she had purchased the fraudulent certificate through the mail based upon the recommendation of a friend. 
  • In February 2013, Brempong presented a forged home-health aide certificate to obtain employment as a home-health aide at Royal Care, Brooklyn-based licensed homecare agency.  Brempong later admitted that she did not attend the training as reflected by the certificate she presented and that she had purchased the certificate from an individual she met on the subway.

In New York State, home health aides are required to be trained and certified to ensure they provide adequate care and protect patient safety (10 NYCRR 700.2(28)(b)(9)).  Related job titles, such as personal care aides, have similar training requirements. Under state law only a person certified to provide home health services can render home health aide services reimbursed by Medicaid in New York.  Anyone who practices, offers to practice or holds himself out as being able to render home health services with a forged certificate is committing a crime.

  • Identify Theft:

Nixia Edmonds, 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with identity theft and impersonating another individual who is a duly certified home-health aide. She is charged with Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, in violation of Penal Law §190.80[1], and face up to seven years in state prison.

The court documents allege that:

  • In April 2013, Edmonds stole the identity of a third party and applied for a job as a home-health aide with Brooklyn-based Tri-Borough Home Care, Ltd (“TBHC”) using the identity she stole.  As part of the application process with the TBHC, Edmond presented a forged DMV identification card and a social security card, both bearing the name of the identity-theft victim. The identity-theft victim confirmed that she did not give anyone permission to use her identity, never applied for a position at TBHC, and was never a home-health aide.  As a result of her deception, Edmonds was paid $4,400 to which she was not entitled.
  • No Show Jobs:

Ulyana Matsuk, 43, of Staten Island, N.Y.; Marina Trofimova, 50, and Tara Justin, 41, both of Brooklyn, N.Y., were each charged with submitting documentation which falsely indicated that they had provided home health care services, and causing the state to pay for healthcare services which were never rendered.  Defendants Trofimova and Matsuk are each charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree in violation of Penal Law §155.35[1] for defrauding their respective employer.  Grand Larceny in the Third Degree is a class D felony and if convicted, each defendant faces up to seven years in State prison.  Defendant Justin is charged with Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, in violation of Penal Law §175.10, for claiming on company records that she directly supervised home-health aide services provided to a 14-year-old, severely developmentally disabled Medicaid recipient when she did not. 

The court documents allege that:

  • Between October 2010 and October 2013, Trofimova allegedly worked as a home health aide for I&Y Senior Care of Brooklyn (“I&Y Senior Care”).  In reality, she worked at a funeral parlor.  As a result of her “no-show” job, Trofimova was paid by I&Y Senior Care over $25,000, salary she did not earn.
  • Between June 1, 2010 and November 1, 2013, Matsuk represented to her employer, Staten Island-based Stella Orton Home Care Agency, that she provided home health care services to two Medicaid recipients through Stella Orton while she was working elsewhere as a masseuse.  As a result, Matsuk was paid $4,900 to which she was not entitled. 
  • Justin was a supervising nurse at Extended Home Care responsible for supervising and verifying the provision of home health care services by home-health aides employed by Extended.   Between June and September 2012, Justin completed paperwork and was paid several hundred dollars for supervised visits at the home of one patient when she made no such visits. 

Separately, the Attorney General will be seeking reimbursement from I&Y Senior Care and from Stella Orton for the state funds Medicaid and Medicaid Managed Long Term Care plans paid these two agencies for services never rendered by their respective employees. 

Following their arrest by investigators from MFCU, defendant Justin was arraigned in New York County before Criminal Court Judge Judge Denise Dominguez; defendant Brempong was arraigned in Kings County before Criminal Court Judge Cencerria Edwards, defendants Trofimova and Edmonds were arraigned in Kings County before Criminal Court Judge Craig Walker; defendant Matsuk was arraigned in Richmond County before Criminal Court Judge Alan Meyer and defendant Prempeh was arraigned in Justice Court, Town of Ossining before Town Justice Michael Tawil. All defendants were arraigned yesterday. 

Currently in New York City approximately 170,475 elderly and disabled residents are cared for in their homes by home-health workers, including home health aides. 

The charges are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The investigations were conducted by MFCU Special Investigators Frederick Rondina, Thomas Dowd, Nancy Calo-Kenny, Stephanie Buono, Dave Ryan, Robert Crook, Alex Kats, Albert Maiorano and Special Auditor Investigators Nicole Barnwell, Joshua Berry, Brian Gonell, Mohammed Hossain, Robyn Irgby-Organ, Ying Tuo with the assistance of Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan, Regional Chief Auditor Thomasina Smith, and Deputy Regional Chief Auditor Kristen McMorrow. 

The criminal cases are being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Imran Ahmed, Mark Cannon, Kristen Conklin, William Wallace, Jeffrey Winkler, and Herman Wun with the assistance of Deputy Regional Directors Larissa Payne and Twan Bounds as well as Regional Director Christopher M. Shaw.  Thomas O’Hanlon is MFCU’s Downstate Chief of Criminal Investigations. MFCU is led by Acting Director Amy Held. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.