Three Long Islanders are among nine early-intervention therapists accused of bilking government agencies out of millions for sessions with developmentally disabled children that never took place, federal prosecutors said.
A criminal complaint, unsealed Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn, charged the therapists with stealing $3.3 million from the New York State Early Intervention Program between Jan. 1, 2015, and June 30, 2019, including more than $1.9 million from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and nearly $1 million from Medicaid.
The state early intervention program provides remedial services to developmentally delayed children up to age 3, including physical, occupational and speech therapy, special instruction and social work services.
"The defendants exploited disabled infants and toddlers, the youngest and most vulnerable among us, to enrich themselves by millions of dollars," said Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison.
The Long Island suspects are Kikelomo Ogundiran, 54, of Dix Hills; Jeanette Monclova, 69, of North Bellmore, and Margaret Dominique-McLain, 54, of Mastic. The remaining suspects live in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island.
Jonathan Rosenberg, a Brooklyn-based attorney representing Dominique-McLain, said "a case like is not won on the first day."
Prosecutors said Dominique-McLain submitted claims for 2,137 nonexistent EIP sessions and was paid nearly $222,000.
Attorneys for Ogundiran and Monclova did not respond to requests for comment.
Ogundiran billed the state government for 4,450 nonexistent EIP sessions, receiving $466,000, even as travel records showed she was not in New York for at least 300 sessions, prosecutors said.
Monclova received payment for more than 2,400 sessions that never took place, getting paid more than $250,000, prosecutors said.
Some of the suspects claimed to have provided EIP sessions nearly every day, often for a period of more than two years, records show.
Since each EIP recipient is entitled to a fixed number of sessions, fraudulently billing for nonexistent sessions deprives the children of sessions they are entitled to receive, prosecutors said.
"Defrauding government programs produces a ripple effect that trickles down to taxpayers who foot the bill for fraud schemes," said Michael Driscoll, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York Field Office.