Login Get News Updates
For local news delivered via email enter address here:
Profile Subscriptions Mobile Tablet
Crime & Cases July 16, 2009  RSS feed

CASHING IN ON VICTIMS

Say Rego Park Man Manipulated Clinic Patients For Insurance $$$
by Robert Pozarycki

The alleged mastermind behind an elaborate health insurance fraud ring operated out of two Bronx clinics—where patients received medical treatments and procedures they did not need—has roots in Rego Park, it was announced.

According to the New York State Attorney General's office, 32-yearold Daniel (a.k.a. Dima) Levy was one of 12 individuals and nine corporate entities charged in a criminal enterprise indictment unsealed last Wednesday, July 8.

Reportedly, Levy and his associates— including his brother, Alex (a.k.a. Sasha) Levy, 34, of Flushing— targeted the victims of minor car accidents at Bronx medical centers and persuaded them to undergo further treatment at their two local clinics. It is alleged that they bribed workers at local hospitals in order to obtain the confidential information of each patient.

Prosecutors said the clinics then billed private health insurance carriers for the unnecessary treatments they performed. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo noted that the scheme was finally busted through an investigation conducted by his office, the New York City Department of Investigation (DOI), the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and numerous insurance companies.

"This criminal enterprise allegedly reaped over a million dollars in profits by engaging in bribery, insurance fraud and the filing of fraudulent lawsuits—a complex scheme that violated hospital patients' privacy and may have driven up the insurance rates of millions of New York automobile owners," said Cuomo in a statement.

"Undercovers from DOI and the Attorney General's office worked together to burrow into a corrupt network whose only business was to milk the system," added DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn. "[The] arrests send the message that law enforcement is working together to identify and stop fraud that injures New Yorkers."

According to the indictment, Daniel Levy—even though he had no prior medical or health provider training—owned and controlled two Bronx medical clinics where the scheme was perpetrated: the Bronx Sheridan Medical P.C., located at 1030 Sheridan Ave. in Morrisania; and the New Lite Bronx Medical, P.C., located at 1170 East Gun Hill Rd. in Williamsbridge. Daniel Levy directed the operations at Bronx Sheridan, while his brother Alex managed the New Lite facility.

Reportedly, the suspect allegedly retained the services of an attorney— Desmond Connell, 51, of the Bronx and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.—for the purpose of bringing clients to the clinics. It is alleged that Connell then approached employees at local hospitals— including Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center—and paid them to acquire on his behalf the personal information of individuals who were treated for minor injuries suffered in car accidents.

Due to the extent of their injuries, each victim was eligible to receive compensation through no-fault insurance payments, the Attorney General's office noted.

Law enforcement sources said the private information of each victim was then passed on to two "steerers"— Ronald J. Schwartz, 54, of Katonah in Westchester County and Daniel Madrid, 48, of the Bronx. Reportedly, the two men then contacted the patients and persuaded them to receive treatments at Levy's clinics.

The unnecessary treatments allegedly provided to each patient included acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic procedures, psychological counseling and neurological tests. The length of the procedures varied from a few weeks to many months.

Reportedly, Daniel Levy ordered the doctors, health care providers, managers and receptionists at the clinic the types and frequency of treatments as well as tests administered to patients.

According to the indictment, Schwartz and Madrid directed the accident victims to exaggerate or falsify the extent of their injuries, convincing the patients that they would receive larger insurance payments if they acted as though they were in greater pain.

It was also alleged that the victims were coerced into hiring attorneys hand-picked by Connell to represent them in negotiations during legal proceedings.

Once the treatments were administered, prosecutors said, the clinics filed claims with the patients' insurance carriers, ultimately receiving millions of dollars in compensation. Connell reportedly received 40 percent of each settlement.

Among the other clinic workers charged in the indictment were the following:

• Dr. Hoi Yat Kam, 55, of Fresh Meadows;

• Dr. Salvatore Lentini, 58, a chiropractor from upstate Chester;

• Yan Yan (a.k.a. Angela) Yu, 53, an acupuncturist from Fresh Meadows;

• Dr. Haroutyoun Tiikranian, 46, a chiropractor from Bridgeport, Conn.;

• Lai Fan (a.k.a. Lisa), 63, an acupuncturist from Flushing;

• Cheng He, 63, an acupuncturist from Flushing; and,

• Dr. Aleksandra Gashinskaya, 57, a neurologist from Brooklyn.

Each of the defendants were variously charged with enterprise corruption, scheme to defraud, money laundering, grand larceny, insurance fraud, falsifying business records and bribery. They each face between 8 1/3 and 25 years in prison if convicted.

Additionally, two hospital employees— Mary Jimenez, 33, of Manhattan and Lloyd Modeste, 56, of Ozone Park—were charged for bribe receiving and official misconduct. If convicted, they each face between 2 1/3 and seven years in prison.

Cuomo noted that his office has sent letters to all New York State hospitals reminding that confidential patient information is protected under state and federal law. The office is also seeking information about security systems and procedures in place to prevent violations of patient privacy.

The attorney general thanked the DOI and HHC for their assistance in the probe along with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Allstate Insurance Company, A.I.G., American Transit Insurance, Liberty Mutual and Metlife Auto and Home Insurance.

Assistant Attorneys General Joseph D'Arrigo, Peter Kolp and Jeff Minett along with Special Assistant Attorney General Lisa Lee of the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case under the supervision of Senior Investigative Counsel Nina Sas, Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly and Deputy Bureau Chief Felice Sontupe.