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DA Rice Announces More than a Half Million Dollars in Stolen Medicaid and Public Assistance Funds Ordered Repaid to Taxpayers

Press Releases

Last of eight defendants in sweep sentenced in court today.

Mineola, NY - March 12, 2014 - Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the sentencing today of the last defendant arrested in a countywide Medicaid and Public Assistance fraud sting involving eight people who collectively have been ordered to repay more than a half million dollars to taxpayers for benefits they were not entitled to receive.   

Mathew Sutphen, 52, of Massapequa, was sentenced today by Acting Nassau County Court Judge Erica Prager to a conditional discharge, 210 hours of community service and restitution in the amount of $167,240.79. Sutphen pleaded guilty to Welfare Fraud in the 2nd Degree (a C felony) in January 2012. His wife and co-defendant, Angela Sutphen, 54, also of Massapequa, pleaded to Welfare Fraud in the 5th Degree (an A misdemeanor) in January 2013. Angela Sutphen was sentenced on March 4 to a conditional discharge and 210 hours of community service.

“Those who think they can take advantage of public assistance programs by collecting benefits they have no right to receive threaten the viability of a social safety net that is paid for by the hard-working men and women of our county,” DA Rice said. “My office will continue its efforts to make sure that money stolen from taxpayers is repaid and those who abuse the system will be held accountable.”

The Sutphens are the last of eight defendants sentenced in the sweep, which was the result of joint investigations by DA Rice’s Public Assistance Fraud Unit and the Special Investigations Unit of the Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS).

Medicaid provides free public health insurance to more 5.3 million low-income individuals in New York State. It is funded jointly by federal, state, and local governments. As a result of the sweep, a total of $527,439.78 in restitution was ordered returned to the funding agencies, with 25 percent going to the state and another 25 percent going to the local county.

DA Rice said that between April 2004 and November 2009, the Sutphens stole more than $167,000 in undeserved Medicaid and Public Assistance benefits by underreporting their income and assets and failing to disclose the ownership of timeshares, a co-op in Florida, a second home in Suffolk County, and the ownership of Cornerstone Bancor Mortgage Company. Mathew Sutphen was arrested on October 13, 2011. They are represented by the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County.

The other defendants sentenced in the sweep are:

  • Joan Anzalone, 45, of Glen Cove, was arrested on September 1, 2011 for stealing more than $26,000 in undeserved Medicaid benefits between August 2005 and July 2009. Anzalone pleaded guilty to Welfare Fraud in the 5th Degree in November 2012 and was sentenced to a conditional discharge and restitution in the amount of $10,412.54. DA Rice said Anzalone claimed to earn between $15,000 and $17,800 as a self-employed house cleaner. In fact, Anzalone’s undisclosed bank records reveal annual deposits between $16,000 and $118,000 during the fraud period.
     
  • Rehman Aziz, 53, and Nighat Aziz, 47, of Sea Cliff, were arrested in September 2011 for stealing more than $96,000 in undeserved Medicaid benefits. Rehman Aziz pleaded guilty in March 2012 to Welfare Fraud in the 3rd Degree and sentenced in May 2012 to five years’ probation, 210 hours of community service, and restitution in the amount of $96,540. Nighat Aziz pleaded guilty in March 2012 to Welfare Fraud in the 5th Degree and sentenced to a conditional discharge. DA Rice said that between June 2004 and September 2010, the defendants stole more than $96,000 in undeserved Medicaid benefits by claiming a weekly income ranging between $325 and $525. In reality, they own their own business and home, and have a yearly income between $56,000 and $116,000.
     
  • Rizwan Basit, 35, and Shamama Shamin, 30, of Valley Stream, were arrested on September 21, 2011 for stealing more than $16,000 in underserved Medicaid benefits. Rizwan Basit pleaded guilty to Disorderly Conduct in April 2012 and was sentenced to a conditional discharge, 210 hours of community service, a fine of $500, and restitution in the amount of $8,000. Shamama Shamin pleaded guilty to Welfare Fraud in the 4th Degree in April 2012 and sentenced to a conditional discharge and restitution in the amount of $8,457. DA Rice said that between April 2007 and December 2010, the defendants stole more than $16,000 in underserved Medicaid benefits by failing to disclose the ownership of two Cold Stone Creamery locations, two Mercedes-Benzes, and annual bank deposits between $140,000 and $193,000 during the fraud period.
     
  • Dennis Melandro, 39, of Hicksville, was arrested on September 28, 2011 for stealing more than $11,000 in undeserved Medicaid benefits. Melandro pleaded guilty to Disorderly Conduct and sentenced to a conditional discharge, 70 hours of community service and restitution in the amount of $11,587. DA Rice said that between April 2009 and May 2010, Melandro stole more than $11,000 in undeserved Medicaid benefits by failing to disclose his employment and income. The investigation revealed that Melandro is a licensed real estate agent, operated his own business, Disasterpro, and had deposits into his bank accounts between $158,000 and $738,000 during the fraud period.
     
  • Laurie Morales, 44, of Freeport, was arrested on September 14, 2011 for stealing more than $162,000 in undeserved Medicaid, Food Stamp, and Day Care benefits. Morales pleaded guilty to Welfare Fraud in the 2nd Degree in January 2013 and sentenced in June 2013 to 5 years’ probation, 210 hours of community service and restitution in the amount of $162,474.45. DA Rice said that between January 1997 and January 2011, Morales stole more than $162,000 in undeserved Medicaid, Food Stamp, and Day Care benefits by failing to disclose her actual income, the ownership of her home, and the presence of her husband in the household. From 2004 through 2010, Morales claimed to earn between $200 and $250 per week. In reality, Morales had annual bank deposits between $56,000 and $70,000.
     
  • Tahira Mundiya, 47, of Farmingdale, was arrested on September 14, 2011 for stealing more than $62,000 in undeserved Medicaid benefits. Mundiya pleaded guilty to Welfare Fraud in the 3rd Degree in May 2012 and sentenced in July 2012 to five years’ probation, 210 hours of community service and restitution in the amount of $62,728. DA Rice said that between September 2001 and June 2010, Mundiya stole more than $62,000 in undeserved Medicaid benefits by failing to disclose the ownership of a second home with rental income and a gas station.

Assistant District Attorneys Christine Burke, Chief of DA Rice’s Public Assistance Fraud Unit, and Brian Heid of DA Rice’s Economic Crimes Bureau, are prosecuting the cases.

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