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A.G. Schneiderman, DOI Commissioner Peters And DFS Superintendent Vullo Announce Indictments Of 13 Current And Former City Fire And Police Department Employees In Half Million Dollar Supplemental Insurance Fraud Scams

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2016

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A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN, DOI COMMISSIONER PETERS AND DFS SUPERINTENDENT VULLO ANNOUNCE INDICTMENTS OF 13 CURRENT AND FORMER CITY FIRE AND POLICE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES IN HALF MILLION DOLLAR SUPPLEMENTAL INSURANCE FRAUD SCAMS

NEW YORK—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters and New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo today announced the indictments of 13 public employees in Queens and Brooklyn, including New York City Police Department Traffic Agents and FDNY EMT’s, Lieutenants, and Paramedics for allegedly committing insurance fraud against the American Family Life Assurance Company (“AFLAC”). It is alleged that these city employees signed up for disability insurance through AFLAC, and manipulated the system by forging physician’s or supervisor’s signatures to file false insurance claims. This group of defendants allegedly collectively stole over half a million dollars. Each defendant stands accused of one count of grand larceny and one count of insurance fraud for thefts that ranged from over $3,000 to over $100,000 per defendant.

“Public employees are entrusted to adhere to the highest code of conduct. Yet these defendants undermined the public trust in government and the integrity of our insurance system by perpetrating this alleged scheme,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Cracking down on public corruption is a top priority for my office, and we will continue our relentless work with our partners in law enforcement to root out fraud and waste wherever we find it.”  

DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said, “Today’s arrests result from a lengthy DOI investigation into dozens of City workers, including fire and police department employees. We depend on honesty and integrity from all our public servants and these workers failed us. Our independent investigation will continue to root out this corrupt behavior with more arrests expected to follow.”

Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said, “The individuals accused of these crimes had sworn to serve and protect the public, but instead they betrayed the public to serve their own selfish greed. The Department of Financial Services appreciates the opportunity to have worked on this case and commends Attorney General Schneiderman and Commissioner Peters for their efforts in bringing these defendants to justice.” The following defendants were arrested this morning on charges of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree, both class C felonies. Grand Larceny in the Second Degree is charged when the value of the stolen property exceeds $50,000. Upon conviction, a class C felony is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison:

  • MARC MASTROS, 37, of Queens, N.Y., a former FDNY EMT, began working for the agency in September 1999 and resigned from the FDNY in March 2014. He is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $118,630 and was arraigned in Queens County Supreme Court.
  • DEVON GRAHAM, 46, of Queens, N.Y., has been employed as an FDNY EMT since May 2005. He is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $71,310 and was arraigned in Queens County Supreme Court.
  • KENNETH LAMBERT, 35, of Hasbrook Heights, N.J., has been employed as an FDNY EMT since February 2004. He is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $91,056 and was arraigned in Queens County Supreme Court.

The following defendants were arrested this morning on charges of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, both class D felonies. Grand Larceny in the Third Degree is charged when the value of the stolen property exceeds $3,000. Upon conviction, a class D felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison:

  • JUAN MASTROS, 28, of Queens, N.Y., has been employed as an FDNY Paramedic since May 2009 and resigned December 9, 2016. He is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $34,176 and was arraigned in Queens County Supreme Court.
  • SUSAN JAMES, 58, of Queens, N.Y., a former FDNY EMS Lieutenant, began working for the agency in March 1996 and retired from the FDNY in October 2013. She is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $9,950 and was arraigned in Queens County Supreme Court.
  • CALEB LAUES, 41, of Queens, N.Y., has been employed as an FDNY Paramedic since February 2004. He is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $41,590 and was arraigned in Queens County Supreme Court.
  • JOSE SOLIS, 34, of Valley Stream, N.Y., has been employed as an FDNY Paramedic since April 2008. He is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $27,229 and was arraigned in Queens County Supreme Court.
  • MOURAD TOUATI, 48, of Queens, N.Y., a former FDNY EMT and current Department of Correction (“DOC”) Officer, began working for FDNY in January 2008 and left in 2014. He joined DOC in May 2014. He is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $31,146 and was arraigned in Queens County Supreme Court.
  • RANDOLPH LOWE, 57, of Brooklyn, N.Y., has been employed as an NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agent since March 2008. He is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $4,753 and was arraigned in Kings County Supreme Court.
  • ANTHONY MIRANDA, 58, of Brooklyn, N.Y., has been employed as an FDNY EMS Lieutenant since March 1996. He is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $22,550 and was arraigned in Kings County Supreme Court.
  • MELISSA OVALLE, 35, of Brooklyn, N.Y., has been employed as FDNY EMS Lieutenant since January 2005. She is charged with defrauding AFLAC approximately $20,670 and was arraigned in Kings County Supreme Court.
  • YOLANDA POWELL, 47, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a former NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agent, began working for NYPD in October 2003 and resigned from the NYPD in December 2015.  She is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $9,505 and was arraigned in Kings County Supreme Court.
  • VALERIY YEDVABSKIY, 58, of Brooklyn, N.Y., has been employed as an NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agency since May 2009. She is charged with defrauding AFLAC of approximately $27,010 and was arraigned in Kings County Supreme Court.

The Attorney General would like to thank the New York State Department of Financial services for the referral in this matter. The Attorney General would also like to thank the New York City Department of Investigation for partnering with the OAG on this investigation.

With offices around the state, and a jurisdiction that is not limited by county, the OAG is uniquely positioned to simultaneously prosecute defendants in multiple venues in cases like this one.

The Attorney General’s investigation into this matter remains ongoing.

Prosecuting the case are Assistant Attorney General Kevin B. Frankel and Special Counsel Brian P. Weinberg of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Daniel Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The investigation was handled by Investigator Angel Laporte of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus. The Investigations bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. Forensic Auditor Kristina Kojamanian assisted in the investigation under the supervision of Forensic Audit Section Deputy Chief Auditor Sandy Bizzarro.  The Forensic Audit Section is led by Chief Auditor Edward J. Keegan, Jr. Legal Support Analyst Katharine Litka of the Public Integrity Bureau also assisted in the investigation. 

Handling the case for NYC DOI is Assistant Inspector General Sara Levinson, Data Analyst Nicholas Devine, all under the supervision of Inspector General Frank J. Carine, Assistant Commissioner Michael Healy, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Michael Carroll and First Deputy Commissioner Lesley Brovner. The investigation also received assistance from DOI’s Office of the Inspector General for NYPD. Cindy Licata, Senior Criminal Investigator, handled the case for the Department of Financial Services.