Attorney General James Announces Sentencing Of Former Hospital Employee For Stealing Over $500,000
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced the state prison sentence of Wendell Lewis, 32, of Brooklyn, NY, for stealing over $500,000 from two hospital systems: Interfaith Medical Center, a Brooklyn-based not-for-profit community hospital that recently came out of bankruptcy, and New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Earlier today, the Honorable Danny Chun of Brooklyn Supreme Court sentenced Lewis to two-and-one-half years to five years in prison following Lewis’ August 7th guilty pleas to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class E felony.
“It is unconscionable that an individual would steal from hospitals that serve such an important and necessary role in the Central Brooklyn community,” said Attorney General James. “My office will continue to hold fraudsters accountable for stealing from institutions serving our most vulnerable citizens because this behavior will never be tolerated.”
The investigation conducted by the Office of the New York Attorney General identified that Lewis — while working in the payroll department of the two hospitals between 2015 and 2018 — engaged in a scheme to fraudulently direct monies from the hospitals to bank accounts he set-up using the personal identification of other persons. 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, which is also located in Brooklyn.
Between 2015 and 2018, Lewis allegedly used 14 fraudulent bank accounts in the names of other persons to steal over $500,000 from the hospitals. After the transfer of the stolen monies to Lewis’ controlled bank accounts, Lewis used the debit cards associated with those accounts to withdraw over $546,000 in cash from ATM machines throughout New York City.
A review of Lewis’ personal bank accounts revealed that he used the stolen monies, in part, to live a lavish lifestyle, including taking multiple trips to the Caribbean; going on shopping sprees at high end stores like Barney’s, Zara, Burberry, and Gucci; and dining at some of New York City’s premier restaurants.
As part of the defendant’s sentence, Lewis forfeited over $129,000 that was seized by the Office of the New York Attorney General and executed a confession judgement for $325,000.
The Office of the New York Attorney General wishes to thank the State Department of Financial Services (DFS) for their assistance with this matter.
“Today, justice was done and although this can never undo the damage inflicted on these communities, we continue to stand ready to assist our hard-working law enforcement partners in holding accountable those who exploit our vulnerable communities or use our financial systems to commit crimes,” added DFS Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell.
The Office of the New York Attorney General also thanks DFS Investigator Albert Flowers for his assistance in the matter.
The case was investigated by New York 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 Oliver Pu-Folks.
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.