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Post date: May 6 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea And Jail Sentence For Owner Of Westchester Transportation Company Who Stole More Than $200,000 From Medicaid

Owner Doctored Forms Requesting Patient Transportation To Fraudulently Receive Medicaid Approval For More Expensive Services

Owner’s Corporation Also Entered Guilty Plea In Theft Of Medicaid Funds

Schneiderman: We Will Pursue Anyone Who Steals The Opportunity For Proper Medical Care From New Yorkers In Need

PEARL RIVER – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Carewell Ambulette, Inc. and its owner, Kurien Palliankal, 48, of Yonkers, have pleaded guilty to stealing more than $200,000 from the Medicaid program. The company, formerly based in New Rochelle, provided transportation services to Medicaid recipients throughout Westchester and neighboring counties. Palliankal will be sentenced to six months in jail, followed by five years of probation, and will also be required to pay full restitution to Medicaid.

“This defendant lined his pockets with money that should have been used to provide medical care to patients in need,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Health care is of utmost importance to New Yorkers, and we will pursue anyone who steals the opportunity to receive these necessary services.”

Medicaid recipients are provided transportation to medical facilities when certified by their health care providers as medically necessary and when Medicaid approves the service. The health care provider must request only the level of service necessary based upon the patient’s condition: ambulance, ambulette or taxi. It is the responsibility of transportation providers selected by the recipient, such as Carewell Ambulette, to use the medical provider’s request to secure prior approval from Medicaid for the government-funded transportation.

From July 2006 through March 2010, Palliankal and Carewell defrauded the Medicaid system by doctoring the request forms received from the medical providers. These forms authorized taxi service, but Palliankal changed the forms to appear as though they authorized the more expensive ambulette service, which Medicaid pays at a rate four times higher than taxi service. Through his company, Palliankal fraudulently obtained Medicaid approval for unnecessary ambulette transportation and thereby defrauded Medicaid of more than $200,000.

Palliankal and Carewell Ambulette pleaded guilty before the Honorable Barry Warhit in Westchester County Court. Palliankal will be sentenced by the court on September 9. Carewell Ambulette, Inc. will be fined $10,000. 

The Attorney General would like to thank the Westchester County Department of Social Services for its assistance in conducting the investigation.

The investigation was led by Senior Investigator Frank Bluszcz, Supervising Auditor Investigator Lora Pomponio and Associate Auditor Investigator Melissa Stoebling, with the assistance of Supervising Investigator Peter Markiewicz, Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan and Assistant Chief Auditor Investigator John Regan.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General William McClarnon of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Pearl River Regional Office, with the assistance of Regional Director Anne Jardine. 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.