New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced the sentencing of Leslie Montgomery, 51, of the Bronx, for defrauding New York state out of millions of dollars in false Medicaid claims and exploiting low-income New Yorkers.
Montgomery — who owned Healthy Living Community Center (Healthy Living) and LCM Livery P/U, Inc. (LCM Livery) — scammed New Yorkers through an elaborate scheme, whereby Montgomery advertised a sham housing assistance program to lure low-income individuals into providing their personal information. She then used the personal information to submit false claims for custom-molded back braces to MetroPlus Health Plan, a Medicaid-funded managed care organization, for braces that were not needed and never ordered by patients.
Montgomery was sentenced today in Bronx County Supreme Court to three (3) to nine (9) years in state prison and ordered to pay back more than $4 million dollars in restitution to New York state.
“Exploiting New Yorkers’ desperate need for affordable housing to steal public funds is despicable,” said Attorney General James. “Ms. Montgomery’s greedy and illegal scheme violated the public’s trust and hurt our vulnerable communities in the process. My office will continue to root out this kind of greed and corruption. Those who attempt to steal off the backs of New Yorkers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Last month, Montgomery pled guilty to Grand Larceny in the First Degree and Money Laundering in the First Degree, both class B felonies. Her company, LCM Livery, pled guilty to Money Laundering in the First Degree. As outlined in court documents, Montgomery 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 personal information, including their Medicaid numbers, in order to qualify for the purported program. But instead of helping people find housing, Montgomery used their 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 never provided a back brace at all, and yet still billed MetroPlus between approximately $750 to $1,550 per item.
As part of her guilty plea, Montgomery admitted to submitting false Medicaid claims to MetroPlus for the custom-molded back braces, which were never requested or provided to the Medicaid recipients. Altogether, she pocketed more than $4 million from the scheme. Montgomery also admitted to hiding the criminal proceeds using shell companies, including LCM Livery, through which she funneled the stolen money to purchase two (2) homes in the Bronx.
In conjunction with the criminal case, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) also filed a civil complaint against Montgomery and her companies. The complaint — which asserts violations of New York’s False Claims Act, Section 145-b of New York’s Social Services Law, Executive Law Sections 63(12) and 63-c, and other causes of action — seeks to additionally recover millions of dollars in Medicaid money obtained by these defendants as a result of their fraudulent conduct. That suit is still pending in court.
The OAG wishes to thank the New York State Department of Health, the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, and MetroPlus for their assistance and cooperation in this investigation.
MFCU’s investigation was led by Detectives Alexander Kats and David Salembier, with the assistance of Supervising Detective James Briscoe, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Morgan and Deputy Chief Commanding Officer William Falk. The underlying financial audit was completed by Senior Auditor Investigator Ying Tuo, with the assistance of NYC Regional Deputy Chief Auditor Jonathan Romano and NYC Regional Chief Auditor Thomasina Smith. Legal Assistants Victoria Sepe and Danielle Vercelli also assisted in the investigation.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Hayley Campbell and Anjna Kapoor, with assistance from Deputy Regional Director David Arias and NYC Regional Director Twan Bounds. Thomas O’Hanlon is MFCU’s Chief of Criminal Investigations-Downstate. The civil action is being litigated by MFCU Civil Enforcement Division Deputy Chief Konrad Payne, with the assistance of Civil Enforcement Chief Alee N. Scott. MFCU is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney and is a part of the Division for Criminal Justice. The Division for Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado and is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.
Reporting Medicaid Provider Fraud
MFCU defends the public by addressing Medicaid provider fraud and protecting nursing home residents from abuse and neglect. If an individual believes they have information about Medicaid provider fraud or about an incident of abuse or neglect of a nursing home resident, they can file a confidential complaint online on the OAG website or by calling the MFCU hotline at 800-771-7755. If the situation is an emergency, please call 911.
MFCU’s total funding for federal fiscal year (FY) 2022 is $59,918,216. Of that total, 75 percent — or $44,938,664 — is awarded under a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The remaining 25 percent of the approved grant — totaling $14,979,552 for FY 2022 — is funded by New York state. Through its recoveries in law enforcement actions, MFCU regularly returns more to the state than it receives in state funding.