A Nigerian woman resident in New York city, Kikelomo Ogundiran, was one of the nine persons arrested for defrauding disabled children through a scheme in the United States of America.
The United States Attorney's Office (USAO) alleged that the suspects who posed as therapists billed New York State intervention program more than $3million for therapy sessions that never happened.
A criminal complaint was unsealed on Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn charging them.
The rest are Marsiste Adolphe, Margaret Dominique-McLain, Mercedes Falcon, Tracy Gibson, Roselee Johnson, Jeannette Monclova, Manuel Moore and Dino Paolicelli.
According to USAO, they are being tried for stealing more than $3 million from the New York State Early Intervention Program (the “EIP”), including more than $993,000 from Medicaid and more than $1,998,000 from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“NYC DOHMH”), an agency that receives federal funds.
The EIP is a New York State program that provides remedial services to developmentally delayed children from birth to age three, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special instruction and social work services.
The defendants, all EIP therapists, were arrested earlier today and are scheduled to make their initial appearance this afternoon before United States Chief Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Margaret Garnett, Commissioner, New York City Department of Investigation (DOI), announced the charges yesterday.
“As alleged, the defendants exploited disabled infants and toddlers, the youngest and most vulnerable among us, to enrich themselves by millions of dollars,” stated United States Attorney Peace.
“This Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to vigorously protect government programs from fraud and abuse that not only hurts taxpayers, but also deprives developmentally delayed children from receiving much-needed services.”
Peace also thanked the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District for its assistance on the case.
“Defrauding government programs produces a ripple effect that trickles down to taxpayers who foot the bill for fraud schemes. As alleged in this complaint, however, the defendants not only stole money from the system itself, they also prevented children with EIPs from accessing the amount of care they were authorized to receive. When systems designed to help our most vulnerable are manipulated in this way, rest assured federal charges will be applied,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.
“This criminal case exemplifies the broad and damaging impact of corruption. These nine defendants not only stole more than $3.3 million in public funds but also robbed more than 200 New York City children of essential Early Intervention services they were entitled to receive, according to the charges.
"The City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) was instrumental in identifying billing discrepancies involving Early Intervention specialists and then referring them to DOI for further investigation.
"I thank our law enforcement partners, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York for their collaboration on this important investigation; and the DOHMH for spotting the inconsistencies and immediately referring them. This type of cooperation among agencies and law enforcement is essential in combatting corruption,” stated DOI Commissioner Garnett.
As set forth in the complaint, between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2019, the defendants allegedly submitted fraudulent documentation for thousands of EIP therapy sessions that never took place.