Bronx scandal centers closed

Nearly three weeks after Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was charged in a bribery scheme, two senior centers embroiled in the scandal have closed their doors.

Their closure comes after the state Office of the Medicaid Inspector General banned the New Age Social Adult Day Care and the Edward A. Stevenson Facility from taking part in the state Medicaid program after its operators were also accused in the criminal scheme.

A secretary answering the phone Monday at New Age would only say that the center would “be closed for a month.”

State Medicaid Inspector General James Cox also banned Stevenson and the four criminally charged center founders from participating in the state’s Medicaid program.

He called the move a “preventative measure” as a result of the criminal case.

Medicaid clients who use the center won’t be able to use the center anymore. The center was considered a gravy train by health care advocates who were concerned over the lack of proper oversight from these off-the-grid social adult day care centers.

Since the state’s Medicaid reforms in July, where MLTC service replaced fee-for-service options, an influx of these unlicensed centers emerged, offering several perks specifically to the elderly population.

The New Age Social Adult Day Care facility, for instance, offers Medicaid-covered clients free movies, door-to-door service, dance lessons or manicures/pedicures.

Both centers are at the heart of an investigation that implicated Stevenson, representing Morrisania and Crotona. He was allegedly caught on video surveillance accepting $20,000 in bribes for fast tracking the opening of the two social adult day care centers by helping to secure required city permits.

Stevenson also allegedly agreed to use his power to draft a bill that would effectively stop any competing social centers from opening in his 79th Assembly District.

He was slapped with five charges, including bribery and conspiracy. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Stevenson has maintained his innocence and has not resigned.

Along with Stevenson, center founders Igor Belyansky, his brother Rotislav Belyansky, Igor Tsiserman and David Binman were charged in the scheme.

Federal authorities launched their investigation in early 2012 with help from west Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who became a federal informant in 2009 after being caught allegedly lying during a city Board of Elections hearing.

Shortly after Stevenson’s arrest, Castro resigned from office and pleaded not guilty to his perjury charge.

New Age, once a 99-cent store, operated in Fordham Heights, a largely poor, immigrant community that celebrated the opening of the center in early March after Igor Belyansky applied for state permission to do business with a managed care organization.

Such organizations, similar to an Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) can apply for Medicaid reimbursement.

Some MCO’s offer Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) plans to qualifying patients.

MLTC’s indirectly receive funds from Medicaid and operate much like an HMO.

And while New Age did not directly receive any Medicaid funds, the state ban now bars the suspects and the centers from receiving Medicaid funds either directly or indirectly from MLTCs.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (718) 742-3383

More from Around NYC