A Farmingdale resident was one of ten people arrested for collectively stealing more than $458,000 worth of Medicaid and public assistance benefits, according to the Nassau County District Attorney's office.
The sweep was the result of joint investigations by the District Attorney’s Public Assistance Fraud Unit and the Special Investigations Unit of the Nassau County Department of Social Services.
“Public assistance programs were created to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, and those who think they can abuse those programs will be found, arrested, and held accountable,” DA Kathleen Rice said. “My office will continue to work with DSS to root out the waste, fraud, and abuse that affect every Nassau County taxpayer.”
Tahira Mundiya, 45, of Farmingdale, was arrested on Sept. 14 and charged with grand larceny in the second degree, welfare fraud in the second degree, and offering a false unstrument for filing in the first degree. Rice said that between Sept. 2001 and June 2010, Mundiya stole more than $62,000 in undeserved Medicaid benefits by failing to disclose the ownership of a second home with rental income and a gas station.
Mundiya faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted and is due back in court on Dec. 2.
Others charged in the sweep include Hicksville resident Dennis Melandro, who Rice said stole more than $11,000 and failed to disclose he was a licensed real estate agent with deposits into his bank accounts between $158,000 and $738,000 during the fraud period and Massapequa residents Matthew and Angela Sutphen, who Rich said stole more than $167,000 in benefits by underreporting their income and assets and failing to disclose the ownership of timeshares, a co-op in Florida, a second home in Suffolk County and the ownership of Cornerstone Bancor Mortgage Company.
Medicaid provides free public health insurance to more than 40 million low-income individuals nationwide and it is funded jointly by federal, state, and county governments, according to the District Attorney's office. Restitution from fraud cases, such as these, is returned to the funding agencies, with approximately 25 percent going to the state and another 25 percent going to the local county.
“These types of crimes are offensive to all Nassau County residents,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. “I want to thank our DSS Investigators for their diligence in investigating these cases. Anyone who attempts to beat the system will be caught and prosecuted.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that up to 10 percent of health care spending is lost to fraud and abuse. Nassau County spends nearly $250 million per year to fund its portion of the Medicaid mandate and New York State’s $52.6 billion annual bill is more than any other state in the country.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.