Attorney General James Announces Arrest And Indictment Of Former Employee Of Two Brooklyn Based Hospitals For Allegedly Stealing Over $550,000  

Wendell Lewis Used His Position In The Payroll Departments Of Interfaith Medical Center And New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital To Steal Over $550,000

BROOKLYN –Attorney General Letitia James today announced felony charges against Wendell Lewis, 32, of Brooklyn, NY, for allegedly stealing over $550,000 from Interfaith Medical Center (“Interfaith”), a Brooklyn not-for-profit community-based hospital that recently came out of bankruptcy, and New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital (“BMH”). The Attorney General's office alleges that Lewis, while working in the payroll department of the two hospitals between 2015 and 2018, engaged in a scheme to fraudulently direct funds from the hospitals to bank accounts set-up by Lewis using the personal identification of other individuals. In 2012, Lewis was convicted of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree for committing similar conduct when he worked in the payroll department at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn.   

The defendant is charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a Class C felony), four counts of Money Laundering in the Second Degree (a Class C felony), two counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree (a class D felony), and two counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a Class E felony). If convicted, Lewis faces a maximum of 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison.   

“Stealing from our hospitals is unconscionable, but allegedly stealing from those hospitals that support our most underserved communities is especially egregious,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “My office will continue to root out this fraudulent behavior, and use our powers to protect our most vulnerable citizens.” 

According to the Attorney General's filings and statements made by prosecutors, Lewis was an employee in the payroll department of BMH from 2015 to 2016. After Lewis’s termination in 2016 for reasons unrelated to the alleged theft, Lewis was hired by Interfaith, where he remained until Interfaith discovered the theft in 2018. As an employee in the payroll departments of BMH and Interfaith, Lewis had the ability to redirect the direct deposits of the hospitals salaried employees. In order for Lewis to conceal the alleged scheme, Lewis would among other techniques, add former employees of the hospitals back on to the payroll and direct their previous salaries to bank accounts he controlled, but that were in the names of other persons. After funding the fraudulent accounts, Lewis would then reverse the fraudulent payments to make them appear as if no monies were withdrawn from the hospital and to prevent IRS Form W-2s from being generated at year end. In an effort to remain undetected by the hospitals, Lewis would allegedly make the unauthorized entries to the payroll system by logging into the hospital’s computer system using the username of other employees in the payroll department.    

Between 2015 and 2018, Lewis allegedly used 14 fraudulent bank accounts in the names of other persons to steal over $550,000 from the hospitals.  After the transfer of the stolen monies to the Lewis controlled bank accounts, Lewis used the debit cards associated with those accounts to withdrawal over $546,000 in cash from ATM machines throughout New York City.  During this same period, Lewis deposited over $175,000 in cash into his personal bank accounts.  

A review of Lewis’s personal bank accounts revealed that Lewis used the stolen funds in part to live a lavish lifestyle, including taking multiple trips to the Caribbean, going on shopping sprees at high end stores, and dining at some of New York City’s prime restaurants. 

Lewis was arraigned today on the indictment before Supreme Court Judge Danny K. Chun in Kings County. Bail was set at $100,000 bond over $50,000 cash and the case was adjourned to May 1, 2019. 

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

“The Department of Financial Services is pleased to have worked with the office of the Attorney General and our other partners in the law enforcement community to root out fraud across New York State,” said Linda A. Lacewell, Acting Superintendent of Financial Services. “DFS will continue to vigorously pursue those who unlawfully enrich themselves at the expense of hard-working taxpayers.” 

Attorney General James thanks the State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) Acting Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell for assistance with this matter. The Attorney General’s office also thanks DFS Investigator Albert Flowers for his assistance. 

The case was investigated by Attorney General Investigators Vincent Gisonti and Steven Pratt under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Michael Leahy and Deputy Chief John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief John Reidy. 

The case is being prosecuted by Gary T. Fishman, Director of the Crime Proceeds Strike Force and Special Advisor to the Criminal Justice Division. Assisting on the case is Legal Support Analyst Walker Halstad. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado.