Tag Archives: brooklyn district attorney

Queens doctors charged in multimillion-dollar Brooklyn Medicaid fraud ring

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com


Several Queens medical practitioners were among 23 people indicted in Brooklyn for allegedly scamming the Medicaid system out of nearly $7 million and offering free sneakers to low-income and homeless people in exchange for undergoing unnecessary medical tests and treatments, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced Tuesday.

The 199-count indictment alleges the defendants carried out a scheme in which Medicaid recipients from low-income neighborhoods, homeless shelters and welfare offices were recruited to undergo unnecessary medical tests, and the patients received free footwear such as sneakers, shoes and boots.

Participating patients were taken to a clinic and examined by a podiatrist. The physicians then supplied the patients, even though they did not have foot problems, with footwear and medical equipment such ankle braces, knee braces or orthotic insoles.

According to the indictment, the defendants then allegedly submitted more than $6.9 million in fraudulent claims to Medicaid, Medicaid-managed health care organizations and Medicare for the medical devices.

“These defendants allegedly exploited the most vulnerable members of our society and raked in millions of dollars by doing so,” Thompson said. “The many poor people who were allegedly targeted at homeless shelters, welfare offices and soup kitchens and referred to as ‘guinea pigs’ by the defendants were exploited for hours, if not days, just because they needed a pair of shoes. That so many doctors allegedly participated in this elaborate scheme to defraud a health care system designed to help the poor is truly disgraceful.”

Thompson identified Eric Vainer, 43, of Riverside Boulevard, as the alleged mastermind and leader of the scheme, and his mother, Polina Vainer, 66, of Keating Place, in Staten Island, as his second in command.

The Queens defendants are Susan Nutakor-Doh, 48, of Forest Hills; Taesoo Kim, 28, of Long Island City; Dr. Bennu Ogorek, DPM, 64, of Forest Hills; Dr. Avia Jackson, DPM, 43, of Jamaica; and Isaacs, DPM, 63, of Flushing.

Some of the defendants were arraigned on March 31 before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on various charges including enterprise corruption, first-degree money laundering, first-degree scheme to defraud, first-degree health care fraud, first-degree falsifying business records and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, among several other charges.

The defendants were ordered to return to court on May 19; each faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the enterprise corruption count.

More charges may be forthcoming, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York reportedly obtained warrants to seize 13 bank accounts into which payments from the defrauded, federally funded programs could be traced.


Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes remembers Howard Beach trial

| jlent@homereporternews.com

In 1987, Charles Hynes was vacationing upstate when he received word he would be the chief prosecutor in the trial of a racially motivated slaying of a 23-year-old African-American man in the Howard Beach section of Queens.

“I was watching a TV news special in the library of this hotel,” Hynes recalled. “And I saw the crowd at Howard Beach chanting, ‘Haven’t you heard? Howard Beach isn’t Johannesberg.’ At that moment there was an announcement. I was wanted on the phone.”

When he picked up the receiver, Hynes, then a special state prosecutor for then-Governor Mario Cuomo, was assigned to what would become his most famous case — the December 20, 1986 slaying of Michael Griffith, and the assault and harassment of two other men in Howard Beach by a group of white males. The incident incited racial tensions across the city — with demonstrations like the one Hynes witnessed, led by the Reverend Al Sharpton, becoming a common sight.

Twenty-five years later, Hynes who is now the district attorney for Kings County, recalls how difficult the laws of the time made it for him to get a felony conviction.

“There wasn’t a question in my mind [that it was a racially motivated attack],” he said. “But we didn’t charge it as a hate crime because a hate crime at the time was a misdemeanor.”

Unable to argue the case as the racially-motivated felony he claims it would be today, Hynes had to prove the defendant’s guilt as if it were a typical murder charge. In order to do so, he relied on the testimony of one of the attackers.

“The evidence I had was [from] one of the people who was involved in the case,” Hynes said. “We had him plead to a lesser charge in order to get his cooperation. Without his testimony, there would have been no conviction.”

After an 11-day deliberation period, which he reports was the “the longest ever at the time for a Queens criminal trial jury,” the State Supreme Court in Queens convicted Jon Lester, Jason Ladone, Scott Kern and Michael Pirone with manslaughter, second degree murder and first degree assault.

Hynes, who went on to write a book about the case, credits it as a major reason for acquiring his current position.

“There’s no question the celebrity that came out of it was as responsible as anything in getting me elected district attorney in 1989,” he said. “I was in people’s living rooms for three months.”