NEW YORK (WABC) -- Authorities in New York arrested eight therapists Thursday in connection with a years-long scheme that involved faking therapy sessions with developmentally disabled children and collecting government money for them.
The eight suspects are accused of stealing more than $600,000 in funds from Medicaid and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Officials said the therapists allegedly abused New York State's Early Intervention Program, or EIP, which is designed to provide remedial services to developmentally delayed children from birth to age three.
Between 2012 and 2018, the accused submitted thousands of fake session notes and invoices for non-existent EIP sessions. These submissions allowed them to collect thousands of dollars in reimbursements from the government.
In some instances, the therapists forged the names of children's guardians or parents on documentation. Some even reported sessions for two children at two different locations at the exact same time.
On several occasions, the suspects were not present at the places where the self-reported therapy sessions occurred, and some were even out of state or out of the country. For example, one suspect, Lyubov Beylina, submitted approximately 51 fraudulent invoices for sessions that occurred while she was in the Dominican Republic, officials said.
Others were at work during these sessions, including as full-time teachers in New York City.
The accused therapists are:
-- Kaderrah Doyle, age 41, of the Bronx
-- Cara Steinberg, age 40, of Old Bridge, New Jersey
-- Marina Golfo, age 44, of North Pelham, New York
-- Ego Onaga, age 45, of Staten Island
-- Lyubov Beylina, age 30, of Brooklyn
-- Danielle Scopinich, age 35, of Ozone Park, New York
-- Patricia Hakim, age 54, of Forest Hills, New York
-- Enock Mensah, age 58, of Mount Olive, New Jersey
"The victims of this fraud include not only the children and their families who were deprived of the therapeutic care that these defendants claimed to have performed, but ultimately the taxpayers whose taxes support Medicaid," said Richard Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement.
If convicted, the suspects face a statutory maximum of 10 years' imprisonment.
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8 therapists charged in faking sessions with disabled children in NY, collecting government money