New York Medicaid fraud bust reveals unusual cast of characters

In another sign that Medicaid fraud is in vogue as, uh, a business opportunity, authorities have busted a New York-based fraud ring which includes some very well-heeled characters, including millionaire real-estate owners and a successful artist.

Federal authorities indicted 11 people this week on charges that they obtained Medicaid benefits fraudulently, including a freelance artist who owns two $1 million apartments in the city, and a painter and mime who owns two high-ticket waterfront properties in the Hamptons.

Prosecutors say that the defendants filed for Medicaid coverage, then lied about their income, assets and where they lived. For example, painter and mime Steven Colucci claimed that he earned $5,000 per year, well under the state maximum of $10,830 per year for individuals, while earning half a million dollars per year or more on rental income from his Hamptons homes. He received more than $16,000 in Medicaid benefits from 2005 to 2008.

In another example of questionable financial reporting, Brian Bomeisler and his wife claimed they earned $2,200 per month when applying for Medicaid, despite owning two apartments in Manhattan worth more than $1 million each. He received more than $37,000 in benefits between 2002 and 2008, according to prosecutors.

Such fraud was possible because New York's Medicaid application doesn't require verifying documents. However, the discrepancies were caught when the city's Human Resources Administration ran an audit on the city's two million Medicaid recipients.

To learn more about the case:
- read this piece in The New York Times
- read this press release from the Manhattan district attorney's office

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