Absolutely! Moreover, with the latest policy changes in New York City Human Resources Administration, criminal prosecution for public benefits fraud, including Medicaid and food stamps in NYC is not only a hypothetical risk but a real possibility.
In the past, cases involving Medicaid fraud and food stamp fraud were mostly resolved administratively, meaning that the target recipient was allowed to repay the agency the money paid for illegally received benefits. Those days are gone. While many cases can still be resolved administratively, the number of Medicaid cases referred to local NY district attorney offices for prosecution has increased dramatically in the past year. The HRA has recently expanded its Bureau of Fraud Investigations (BFI) responsible for investigating public benefits fraud. Under their new policy, more and more cases are send over to the DA for prosecution.
Which Medicaid Fraud Cases Are More Likely To Be Prosecuted in NYC?
Technically, making a false statement on an application for public benefits is a crime. A false statement doesn’t have to be an actual lie; an act of omission is also a false statement. For example, if the questionnaire asks to list all persons living with you in the house or list all sources of income, leaving the box blank is equivalent to making a false statement because the government will interpret this as entering zero in determining? your eligibility.
Not all public benefits fraud cases are prosecuted. In our experience (and our office has handled literally hundreds of such cases), the most likely targets are benefits recipients who have the combination of the following factors: maintaining out of city addresses, owning multiple properties, not disclosing sources of income, either from business or rental properties. The amount of money lost to the city is also an important consideration, although we have seen persons prosecuted for receiving as little as $4,000 in benefits to as much as $250,000. Each case is reviewed individually, but the ultimate decision to refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office rests with the individual investigator.
What Happens When My Medicaid Fraud Case Is Sent Over To The DA’s Office?
Once the case is transferred to the DA’s Office, it is usually reviewed by the supervising prosecutor in the public fraud crimes unit. This is when the final decision to? file charges is made. Some cases are sent back to the HRA. When the DA is ready to proceed with the case, a detective will contact the targets by phone or mail informing them that they must surrender to the DA. This is when you need to contact an attorney before doing anything else.
Once the target recipient surrenders, the DA will charge them with multiple felonies. Those who surrender voluntarily are generally released the same day without bail.
What Will Happen To Me If I’m Arrested For Medicaid Fraud in NYC?
Submitting a false application in order to receive public benefits is a crime. Because most defendants had been receiving benefits for years, submitting new applications every year, they will be charged with multiple felony counts.
All clients who find themselves in this situation ask whether they will go to prison. The answer is this: while there is certainly a risk of incarceration in any criminal prosecution, a good defense lawyer knowledgeable in Medicaid fraud issues should be able to minimize that risk to zero, as well as reduce the criminal charge and help avoid deportation for non-citizen defendants.
How Do I Choose A Medicaid Fraud Lawyer in New York City?
Just like you would choose your doctor. You want an attorney that will make you comfortable. Make a phone call, schedule a consultation. Ask whether the lawyer has handled Medicaid fraud cases in the past and how many. How were they resolved? Is the lawyer familiar with New York rules concerning public benefits eligibility? You will not take long before finding the right person.
If you or someone you know has issues related to Medicaid or food stamp fraud in New York City, call our office today at (212) 577 6677 to schedule an immediate consultation with? a highly experienced NYC Medicaid Fraud lawyer.