Brooklyn Federal Court

9 Therapists Steal $3M From NY Program for Children With Developmental Delays: Feds

Getty Images

What to Know

  • Nine therapists are accused of stealing more than $3 million from the New York State Early Intervention Program (EIP) meant to help children with developmental delays, according to federal prosecutors
  • A criminal complaint was unsealed Tuesday in federal court charges the therapists with stealing more than $993,000 from Medicaid and more than $1,998,000 from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), an agency that receives federal funds
  • According to prosecutors, the EIP is a New York state program that provides remedial services to children with developmental delays from birth to age 3. These services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special instruction and social work services

Nine therapists are accused of stealing more than $3 million from the New York State Early Intervention Program (EIP) meant to help children with developmental delays, according to federal prosecutors.

A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charges the therapists with stealing more than $3 million from 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 (DOHMH), an agency that receives
federal funds.

According to prosecutors, the EIP is a New York State program that provides remedial services to children with developmental delays from birth to age three. These services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special instruction and social work services.

The accused, all EIP therapists, were arrested Tuesday and are scheduled to make their initial appearance that same afternoon.

According to the complaint, between Jan. 1, 2015 and June 30, 2019, the nine therapists allegedly submitted fraudulent documents for thousands of EIP therapy sessions that never took place and collectively received millions of dollars as payments for these non-existent sessions.

Since each EIP recipient is only entitled to a fixed number of sessions, submitting fraudulent bills for sessions that do not take place deprives infants and toddlers with developmental delays of EIP therapy sessions they are entitled to receive, prosecutors note.

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace, Assistant Director-in-Charge for the New York Field Office of the FBI Michael
J. Driscoll, and New York City Department of Investigation (DOI) Commissioner Margaret Garnett announced the charges.

“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.”

Driscoll shared similar sentiments, saying in a statement: “Defrauding government programs produces a ripple effect that trickles down to taxpayers who foot the bill for fraud schemes. In this case, 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, as alleged. When systems designed to help our most vulnerable are manipulated in this way, rest assured federal charges will be applied."

Meanwhile, Garnett said that the 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,” Garnett said.

Copyright NBC New York
Contact Us