A Bronx woman was indicted by state Attorney General Letitia James Friday for bilking millions in false Medicaid claims and could face 25 years in prison.
Leslie Montgomery, 50, who did business as Healthy Living Community Center (Healthy Living) and owned LCM Livery P/U, Inc. (LCM Livery) — allegedly scammed individuals and taxpayers through an elaborate scheme, whereby Montgomery advertised a fake housing assistance program to lure low-income New Yorkers into providing their personal information, including their Medicaid numbers. Montgomery then used that personal information to submit false claims for custom-molded back braces to MetroPlus Health Plan, Inc. (MetroPlus), a Medicaid-funded managed-care organization, for braces that were not needed and never ordered by patients. Montgomery is accused of stealing more than $4 million from the illegal scheme.
“Cheating taxpayers by preying on vulnerable New Yorkers is disgraceful and unacceptable,” James said. “This alleged scheme took advantage of those most in need, baiting individuals with fake promises of affordable housing, only to use their personal information to steal more than $4 million from taxpayers. This fraud will not go unchecked. We will go after anyone who steals from New Yorkers.”
In the indictment, the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Medicaid Fraud Control Unit alleges that Montgomery regularly used social media to advertise a sham housing assistance program as a ruse to lure low-income New Yorkers to Healthy Living. Healthy Living then required New Yorkers to divulge personally identifiable information — including their Medicaid numbers — in order to qualify for the purported program. But instead of helping New Yorkers find housing, Montgomery used their personal information to submit false claims to MetroPlus for highly customized back braces that she never provided to the Medicaid recipients.
From time to time, Montgomery provided a $20 “off-the-shelf” back brace that was mailed directly from Amazon to the recipient. However, most of the time, she provided no brace at all, yet still billed MetroPlus between approximately $750 and $1,550 per back brace. Altogether, Montgomery is accused of pocketing more than $4 million from the scheme.
Montgomery was charged with with one count of first-degree grand larceny, one count of first-degree health care fraud, one count of first-degree money laundering and five counts of first-degree identity theft. In addition to the charges against Montgomery, LCM Livery is also charged with one count of first-degree money laundering.
In conjunction with the criminal case, the OAG has also filed a civil complaint against Montgomery, LCM Livery and other companies owned and controlled by Montgomery. The complaint — which asserts violations of New York’s False Claims Act, Section 145-b of New York’s Social Services Law, and other causes of action — seeks to recover millions of dollars in Medicaid money obtained by these defendants as a result of their fraudulent conduct.