One Prospect Park West sits at the entrance to Prospect Park (Photo by Mary Bakija)
A Medicaid fraud bust at a Park Slope adult day care center resulted in the arrest today of residents of Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach and Sea Gate, one of whom is a member of Sheepshead Bay’s Community Board 15.
The three local defendants worked at Northern Manor Adult Day Health Care Program at One Prospect Park West. They are accused of falsifying medical records to bilk the Medicaid program out of more than $1 million. The center’s operators are also accused of hiring unqualified individuals to provide services.
The bust followed a long-term investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which has been probing adult day health care centers for potential abuses.
The attorney general’s office set up covert stings, sending healthy, vibrant seniors to the facility as undercover informants for the attorney general. They say their secret cameras recorded Larisa Rumynik, 48, of Brighton Beach, and Valentina Shapran, 51, of Sea Gate, falsifying medical admission forms to ensure the healthy patients would qualify for the programs.
The third local defendant, Liliya Kostyuk, 58, of Sheepshead Bay, is accused of providing social work services and psychological assessments that she was not qualified to perform, the attorney general’s office said.
Kostyuk is also a member of Community Board 15, a government body comprised of 50 unpaid community members appointed at the request of City Council members. The Boards are responsible for advising city and state agencies on planning decisions. According to Chairperson Theresa Scavo, Kostyuk has been on the Board for at least six years and is an appointee of former Councilman Michael Nelson. She did not hold any leadership posts on the Board.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” said Scavo on hearing the news of Kostyuk’s arrest. “Liliya? I’m speechless. she’s always seemed so quiet. I guess you can never judge.”
Each of the three defendants face up to four years in state prison if found guilty. The program’s director, Gelena Deverman, 35, of New Jersey, was charged with grand larceny for causing Medicaid to pay more than $1 million in phony claims. She faces 25 years in prison.
Northern Manor’s parent company, Northern Manor Multicare Center based in Nanuet, New York, in a separate civil settlement, admitted that it operated without a qualified social worker from mid-2010 to 2011. They also confessed to routinely admitting more registrants than it was certified to take.
The parent company agreed to pay a $6.5 million civil settlement in the case and to shut down the Brooklyn center.
“Today’s charges detail yet another example of egregious, despicable abuse of public resources for personal gain, sending the message that criminal behavior will be met with the full force of the law,” said Schneiderman in a press release. “Employees of this program will never again be able to steal from taxpayers and deprive vulnerable New Yorkers of the care they deserve.”
Adult day cares are surging in popularity across New York, seen as a less costly alternative to nursing homes. Such facilities are licensed by the state to provide medical and psychosocial care to seniors who are unable to care for themselves, and are paid approximately 65 percent of the rate paid to a nursing home that provides room and board.
However, the lack of oversight has seen a spike in fraud, with some centers offering gifts, kickbacks and incentives for recruiting potential Medicaid recipients.
Both the state legislature and City Council have sought reforms to limit abuse.