What to Know
- Eight therapists have been arrested for stealing more than $600,000 by billing for sessions with kids that never actually took place
- The therapists claimed to have provided sessions for developmentally disabled and delayed children, prosecutors said
- But they actually submitted fake sessions notes and invoices for "non-existent" sessions
Eight therapists -- two of them New York City teachers -- allegedly stole more than $600,000 over the course of six years by billing for therapy sessions with developmentally disabled children that never actually took place, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said.
Between 2012 and 2018, Medicaid and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reimbursed the eight Early Invervention Program therapists for thousands of therapy sessions they claimed to have provided for developmentally disabled and delayed children in the tri-state area, the attorney’s office said.
But the therapists actually submitted fake session notes and invoices for “non-existent” sessions, according to the attorney’s office. In some instances, the therapists weren’t even in the country or the state when the sessions supposedly took place, prosecutors said.
One of the therapists, Lyubov Beylina, 30, of Brooklyn, allegedly turned in around 51 fake invoices for therapy sessions she claimed had taken place in the tri-state area.
But Beylina was actually in the Dominican Republic on the dates she claimed the sessions had happened, prosecutors said.
The therapists submitted paperwork with the forged signatures of parents, guardians, teachers and daycare workers, or claimed they’d performed therapy sessions for children in two different places at the same time, according to prosecutors.
Some of the therapists claimed they were at sessions when they were actually at other jobs, including as teachers for the New York City Department of Education, prosecutors said.
“The victims of this fraud include not only the children and their families who were deprived of the therapeutic care that these defendants claimed to have performed, but ultimately the taxpayers whose taxes support Medicaid,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement.
Beylina and the other seven therapists, Kaderrah Doyle, 41, of the Bronx; Cara Steinberg, 40, of Old Bridge; Marina Golfo, 44, of North Pelham; Ego Onaga, 45, of Staten Island; Danielle Scopinich, 35, of Ozone Park; Patricia Hakim, 54, of Forest Hills; and Enock Mensah, 58, of Mount Olive, could face up to 10 years in prison, the attorney’s office said.
They were expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The Department of Education says Doyle and Onaga were teachers in New York City, and that the charges they're facing are not related to their work at the DOE. They've been reassigned away from the classroom pending the outcome of the federal investigation, and the DOE will "seek to remove them from payroll as soon as possible."
Doyle, who started as a teacher in 2008 and has been at X811 since 2014, and Onaga, who started as a paraprofessional in 1999 and has been a teacher at R016 since 2001, have no disciplinary history with the DOE, officials said.