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Three arrested in Otsego County pharmaceutical bust

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ONEONTA, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – According to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, three folks related with the Phinaliz Communications company in Otsego County have been arrested final Thursday, August 24, on fraud fees after they allegedly tried to steal over $1 million from the Medicaid program.

The arrests have been a part of a multi-year joint investigation between a number of state, native and federal businesses. The three males – Philip Mtui, Mbaga Kaiza, and Tony Taylor – have been allegedly working a scheme that concerned billing the Medicaid program for faux transportation providers, duplicating and inflating prices, and paying kickbacks to Medicaid recipients.

“The disruption of this criminal behavior and associated kickbacks for fraudulent charges has an impact beyond theft,” Oneonta Police Chief Christopher Witzenberg mentioned in a press release. “The kickbacks were undoubtably used to fuel substance abuse issues for vulnerable people, resulting in a host of other complications in our community. It is not just an example of theft and fraud from the public, but the exploitation of people for profit. I would like to thank the Otsego County District Attorney’s Office and the Otsego County Sheriff’s office, as well as the other partners in this investigation, for their cooperation and coordination.”

Under Medicaid rules, sufferers might use transportation providers for respectable appointments that are billed to this system by the supplier. According to the investigation, over a four-year interval, the three suspects allegedly claimed fee for rides that by no means occurred and charged as much as quadruple the quantity for rides that did happen. Further investigation discovered that enrollees have been allegedly being paid kickbacks by the corporate to make use of their service.

“The defendants allegedly engaged in a scientific rip-off to defraud the Medicaid program of hundreds of thousands of {dollars},” DiNapoli mentioned in a press release. “Medicaid fraud impacts us all and diverts money from those truly in need. Thanks to the partnership between my office, Otsego County District Attorney Muehl, Otsego County Sheriff Devlin, Oneonta Chief of Police Witzenburg and the HHS-OIG [Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General], this fraud was uncovered and now these defendants will be held accountable.”

Mtui and Kaiza have been arraigned in Oneonta City Court, each on one depend of Grand Larceny in the First Degree – Theft of Over $1 million. They have been each held on $250,000 bail. Taylor was arrested on one depend of Conspiracy in the Sixth Degree, associated to the scheme. He can be arraigned in Oneonta City Court on Tuesday, September 19.

According to the Comptroller, that is the primary spherical of arrests stemming from this investigation. The investigation itself stays ongoing.

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