Philadelphia Money Launderer Pleads Guilty In Connection With $13 Million Brooklyn Medicare/Medicaid Fraud Scheme
Leonid Zalkind, 36, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering before U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon of the Eastern District of New York. At sentencing, scheduled for December 2, 2013, Zalkind faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch; Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Special Agent-in-Charge Thomas O’Donnell of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
According to court documents, from 2010 to 2012, Zalkind operated numerous shell companies and bank accounts through which he laundered the proceeds of health care fraud from the Brooklyn clinic Cropsey Medical Care PLLC (“Cropsey Medical”). Zalkind conspired with others to accept checks from Cropsey Medical, which were made payable to various shell companies Zalkind controlled. These checks did not represent payment for any legitimate service at or for Cropsey Medical, but rather were written to launder Cropsey Medical’s fraudulently obtained health care proceeds. Zalkind admitted at the plea proceeding that he deposited such checks into bank accounts he controlled, intending these transactions to hide and disguise the fact that these funds were proceeds of a crime. He admitted that he knew these funds were proceeds of illegal activity.
The proceeds of checks Zalkind negotiated and cashed were given to the owners and operators of Cropsey Medical, at which point they were used to pay illegal cash kickbacks to Cropsey Medical’s purported patients. According to court documents, from approximately November 2009 to October 2012, Cropsey Medical submitted more than $13 million in claims to Medicare and Medicaid, seeking reimbursement for a wide variety of fraudulent medical services and procedures, including physician office visits, physical therapy and diagnostic tests.
Eight individuals, including a doctor, owners/operators and employees of Cropsey Medical clinics, along with other individuals who paid and received kickbacks to induce the transportation and referral of patients to the clinic, as well as individuals who laundered funds for Cropsey Medical, await trial before Judge Nina Gershon. Trial has not yet been scheduled.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Sarah M. Hall and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shannon Jones and Ilene Jaroslaw of the Eastern District of New York. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS.
The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.