Brooklyn Resident Pleads Guilty in Connection with $13 Million Kickback and Health Care Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 06, 2013|
BROOKLYN, NY—Brooklyn resident Gregory Konoplya, 57, pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York to conspiracy to pay and receive illegal health care kickback payments in connection with his role in a $13 million health care fraud scheme. Konoplya is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in connection with the scheme, which was based at the Cropsey Medical Care PLLC clinic in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Today’s guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office; and Thomas O’Donnell, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
“Gregory Konoplya tried to take taxpayers for a ride with his fraudulent ambulette service,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “He used illegal cash kickbacks to recruit Medicaid beneficiaries to obtain medical services, including rides in his ambulettes, which the beneficiaries did not need. Konoplya is the latest defendant to be convicted in connection with the government’s ongoing investigation of the Cropsey Medical Care clinic, which submitted more than $13 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid. We will continue to do our part to root out health care fraud to help protect the integrity of Medicare and Medicaid.” U.S. Attorney Lynch extended her grateful appreciation the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General for their work on the investigation.
Konoplya pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann of the Eastern District of New York. At sentencing, Konoplya faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of over $850,000, restitution of up to $429,000, and forfeiture of up to the same amount, $429,000.
According to court documents, from 2009 to 2012, Konoplya, working through an ambulette company in Brooklyn, recruited patients to attend a Brooklyn clinic called Cropsey Medical Care PLLC. An ambulette is a vehicle licensed by New York State’s Medicaid program to transport beneficiaries to and from medical facilities when such transportation is medically necessary. Konoplya paid employees of Cropsey Medical a per-beneficiary cash kickback so that Cropsey Medical would accept Konoplya’s beneficiaries as patients and Konoplya’s ambulette company could bill Medicaid for the transportation of beneficiaries to and from Cropsey Medical. Once Konoplya’s beneficiaries were transported to Cropsey Medical, they were paid cash kickbacks to induce them to continue to attend the clinic and receive medically unnecessary physical therapy, diagnostic testing and other services. Such purported medical services were then fraudulently billed by Cropsey Medical to Medicare and Medicaid.
According to court documents, from approximately November 2009 to October 2012, Cropsey Medical submitted more than $13 million in claims to Medicare and Medicaid, seeking reimbursement for a wide variety of fraudulent medical services and procedures, including physician office visits, physical therapy, and diagnostic tests.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, and supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Sarah M. Hall and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shannon Jones and Ilene Jaroslaw of the Eastern District of New York.
The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.