Disbarred Plastic Surgeon Brad Jacobs Pleads Guilty to Felony Charges in Two Counties; Will Be Sentenced to 3 to 9 Years in Prison.
New York, NY - February 5, 2019 - Attorney General Letitia James today announced the conviction of disbarred plastic surgeon Brad Jacobs, 56, of Westbury, NY, in New York and Nassau Counties for engaging in a 4-year scheme to illegally perform surgeries on patients, and for committing a massive disability insurance and welfare fraud scheme. Today, the defendant pleaded guilty in New York County to one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, two counts of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. Last week, the defendant pleaded guilty in Nassau County to one count of Insurance Fraud in the Second Degree and one count of Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree.
Jacobs will be sentenced to a total of 3 to 9 years in state prison and executed confessions of judgment in favor of his victims totaling over $425,000.
“Practicing medicine without a license jeopardizes the lives of New Yorkers, undermines our healthcare system, and diminishes the work of licensed doctors committed to the health and safety of their patients,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “This defendant not only endangered patients, but also stole public benefits intended to aid the most vulnerable among us. My office will continue to aggressively prosecute those who commit fraud at the expense of New Yorkers.”
“Through strict licensing requirements and high standards of professional conduct, New York State ensures that doctors and other healthcare providers are qualified and competent to treat patients,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “Practicing medicine without a license harms patients and defrauds the state’s Medicaid program and insurance companies. I applaud Attorney General James for securing this conviction and reminding New Yorkers that we do not tolerate this type of conduct.”
“Physicians have to be trusted as they provide life and death services,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “When an unlicensed person masquerades as a physician and breaches that trust, it is our duty to all New Yorkers to ensure that they are brought to justice. The State Education Department is committed to our partnership with Attorney General James as we continue to work together to ensure the public is protected from the dangers of those that practice illegally.”
Jacobs was licensed to practice medicine in 1988 and practiced until June 18, 2007, when the New York State Department of Health, Office of Professional Medical Conduct (“OPMC”) invoked its emergency powers to summarily suspend his license and shut down his practice. Jacobs was thereafter formally charged with 29 specifications of Professional Medical Misconduct, including gross negligence, incompetence, and moral unfitness related to his performance of surgeries, including breast augmentation, tummy tucks, liposuction, and rhinoplasty.
In September 2007, Jacobs surrendered his license to practice medicine. The Surrender Order entered against Jacobs not only ordered him to immediately cease the practice of medicine, but it also prohibited him from sharing office space in which another physician provides health care services, and from sharing or receiving any fee for professional services.
According to statements made by the prosecutors and admissions made by defendant Jacobs as part of his guilty pleas, between September 2012 and June 2016, Jacobs defrauded patients undergoing costly cosmetic surgery procedures – each averaging between $8,000 and $10,000 – by falsely representing that he was authorized to practice medicine. The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that, over the course of four years, Jacobs, together with licensed physician Nicholas Sewell, allegedly performed surgeries on over 60 patients, along with scores of additional medical procedures including Botox and injectables. Many of the individuals allegedly defrauded were either former patients of Jacobs or individuals referred by Jacobs’ former patients.
Jacobs concealed his ongoing illegal practice of medicine and his associated income from both his disability insurance carrier and the Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS). Prior to losing his medical license, Jacobs had purchased a disability insurance policy with Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company. After losing his license in 2007, Jacobs filed a disability claim with Northwestern. A settlement was reached in June 2013, in which Jacobs received a lump sum payment of $750,000 and ongoing payments of over $100,000 per year from Northwestern, payable to a trust established for his benefit. However, in order to qualify for ongoing disability payments, Jacobs was required to file annual statements with Northwestern certifying that he was not employed or otherwise practicing as a physician. From 2014 to 2017, Jacobs filed four such annual statements with Northwestern, in which he falsely certified that he was no longer engaged in the practice of medicine, thereby fraudulently obtaining over $360,000 in ongoing disability insurance payments.
The Attorney General’s investigation further revealed that while he was receiving these vast sums of money from Northwestern – totaling over $1.3 million – Jacobs filed sworn documents with the government certifying that he was in need of, and entitled to receive, food stamp benefits. Between 2013 and 2017, Jacobs filed eight recertification statements with the Nassau County DSS which affirmed, under penalty of perjury, his continued eligibility to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits (SNAP, also known as food stamp benefits). In every recertification, Jacobs concealed the over $1.3 million in payments he received from Northwestern, the income from his unauthorized medical practice, and his additional income of nearly $100,000 from a start-up skin care company, Nouveau Genesis. Instead, Jacobs falsely claimed that he had little or no income and resources and that he was being supported by his elderly parents. Moreover, Jacobs concealed from the Nassau DSS that he received an additional $18,000 in deposits per year into his personal bank account from the trust, which he then used for entertainment and leisure, including expenditures of over $10,000 at Whole Foods and Walbaums, and $3,900 at Bagel Boss. In total, Jacobs collected almost $13,000 in food stamp benefits between 2013 and 2017.
Jacobs is scheduled to be sentenced in New York County on March 20, 2019 and in Nassau County on March 1, 2019, to total of 3 to 9 years in state prison. As part of his guilty pleas, Jacobs also executed confessions of judgment in favor of his victims totaling over $425,000.
The case against co-defendant Nicholas Sewell is still pending. Sewell is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Attorney General James thanked the New York State Department of Education, the Nassau County DSS, the New York State Department of Health, and Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company for their valuable assistance in this case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Kristen Bitetto and Maureen Grosdidier of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, with the assistance of Legal Analyst Emma Keteltas. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Jose Maldonado.
The case was investigated by Investigator Anna Ospanova, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Sylvia Rivera and Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator John Reidy. Audit work was performed by former Forensic Auditor Alex Ozechowski of the Forensic Audit Section. The Forensic Audit Section is led by Deputy Chief Sandy Bizzarro and Chief Edward J. Keegan.