New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced the guilty plea of Shirley L. Goddard — 75, of Dewitt, New York — for embezzling more than $650,000 from Humanitarian Organization for Multicultural Experiences, Inc. (H.O.M.E.), where she served as executive director for nearly 30 years. H.O.M.E. — a Syracuse-based not-for-profit organization started by Goddard and her husband, Tyrone M. Goddard, in 1992 — received funding from Medicaid to provide outpatient, community-based services to children and adults, who are developmentally disabled. In submitting her plea today, Goddard admitted to stealing the funds from H.O.M.E. from January 2014 to September 2018, and has agreed to repay the stolen amount in restitution to the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU). The funds will be returned to H.O.M.E. to replenish the amount that Goddard stole.
“Stealing public funds that are intended for New York’s neediest residents is as shameful as it is unlawful,” said Attorney General James. “Medicaid funds are intended to help serve our state’s most vulnerable communities, but Shirley Goddard defrauded this program and illegally pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars. To be clear, my office has zero tolerance for this type of fraud, which is why we will hold accountable, to the fullest extent of the law, all those who seek to illegally profit from the state and off the backs of our most vulnerable residents.”
Today, before Onondaga County Court Judge Thomas J. Miller, Goddard pled not guilty to the felony complaint, waived presentation to a grand jury, and entered a guilty plea to a superior court information, in which she admitted to embezzling $650,809.32 from H.O.M.E. during the period of January 01, 2014 to on or about September 30, 2018. Goddard is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13, 2022.
In addition to the criminal prosecution conducted by MFCU, OAG’s Charities Bureau filed a civil lawsuit against Shirley and Tyrone Goddard that seeks the recovery of the funds Ms. Goddard has admitted to stealing, as well as other misappropriated charitable assets and seeks a permanent bar prohibiting the Goddards from holding any fiduciary role in a charitable or nonprofit organization operating in New York.
MFCU’s investigation was led by Detective Timothy Bates with the assistance of Supervising Detective Christopher M. Burns, all under the supervision of Deputy Chief Commanding Officer William Falk. The underlying financial analysis was completed by Senior Auditor-Investigator Christine Rhody, under the supervision of Syracuse Regional Chief Auditor Dejan Budimir.
MFCU jointly investigated this case with Assistant Attorney General Sharon Sash with the assistance of Associate Accountant Darren Beauchamp, under the supervision of Charities Bureau Enforcement Section Co-Chief Emily Stern. The Charities Bureau is led by Bureau Chief James Sheehan and Deputy Bureau Chief Karin Kunstler-Goldman, and is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Regional Director Ralph D. Tortora, III. MFCU is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney. The Division for Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado. Both the Division for Criminal Justice and the Division for Social Justice are 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.