A Bronx woman who allegedly offered fraudulent affordable housing to scam low-income New Yorkers into revealing their personal information bilked New Yorkers out of $ 4 million.
On Oct. 9, Attorney General Letitia James announced charges against Leslie Montgomery and her healthcare clinic, Healthy Living Community Center (Healthy Living), for defrauding the New York State Medicaid program by submitting false claims to Medicaid and to MetroPlus, a Medicaid-funded managed care organization (MCO), for customized back braces.
Montgomery, 49, was charged with grand larceny in the first degree and identity theft in the first degree.
“Using affordable housing as a pretense for Medicaid theft is reprehensible,” James said. “My office will do everything in our power to stop New Yorkers in need of housing assistance from being left in the lurch and having their information be unwittingly used for theft from New York taxpayers.”
The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (“MFCU”) alleged that Montgomery regularly advertised online a housing assistance program as a ruse to lure Medicaid recipients to Healthy Living, where they had to divulge their personal Medicaid information in order to “qualify for the program.” There was no legitimate housing assistance program and there was no housing provided to those individuals who responded.
Instead, Montgomery allegedly stole their personal information to submit false claims to Medicaid for highly specialized, custom-molded back braces. Almost every single Healthy Living recipient had back braces billed in their name. Allegedly, none of the individuals received custom-molded back braces.
In some instances, Montgomery provided a $20 “off-the-shelf” back brace mailed directly from Amazon to the recipient. Other times, she provided nothing at all, yet billed Medicaid between $750 and $1,550 per back brace.
Relying on the accuracy of claims submitted by Montgomery and Healthy Living, the Office of Attorney General (OAG) alleged that Medicaid-funded MCOs, such as MetroPlus, paid more than $4 million to Montgomery, directly and through Health Living.
Montgomery was arraigned and released under the conditions that she surrenders her passport, waives extradition and restricts travel to within New York state