Defendant Allegedly Received Over $20,000 in Salary for Work in Rochester Nursing Home with Suspended License.
New York, NY - October 11, 2018 - Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood announced the arrest and arraignment of Asmeret Yohannes, 37, of Rochester, who is charged with grand larceny and unauthorized practice of a profession for allegations that she fraudulently took over $20,000 in payment from a Rochester nurse staffing agency while practicing without a nursing license. The felony complaint filed in Gates Town Court alleges that Yohannes, who was previously registered as a licensed practical nurse, continued to work at a local nursing home even though her professional license was suspended.
“The nursing home residents and other patients who rely on nurses’ care and professionalism shouldn’t have to worry that their nurse may not in fact be licensed,” said Attorney General Underwood. “My office will continue to act to protect New Yorkers’ health and wellbeing.”
The investigation conducted by the New York Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) revealed that Asmeret Yohannes was a nurse previously licensed by New York State until her license was suspended by the New York State Office of Professional Discipline (“OPD”), effective October 4, 2017. OPD regulates most licenses for New York and conducts investigations and disciplinary proceedings. OPD settled a disciplinary matter with Yohannes through a process referred to as an Application for Consent Order (“ACO’), and Yohannes agreed in writing to the suspension of her license by the New York State Board of Regents.
The Attorney General’s felony complaint alleges that despite consenting to suspension, Yohannes thereafter worked for WorkFit Staffing – an agency that employs nurses who are then contracted out to provide nursing services to local health care providers. Yohannes allegedly accepted assignments to work at Wesley Gardens Nursing Home in Rochester from October 7, 2017 to January 7, 2018 and received over $20,000 in salary from WorkFit.
The complaint charges Yohannes with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, a class E felony. If convicted of the top count and sentenced to prison, she faces an indeterminate sentence of a minimum of 1 ½ to 3 years and a maximum of 3 ½ to 7 years.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case was investigated by Investigator Kevin Wehbring, with assistance from MFCU Rochester Regional Chief Investigator William Falk and Regional Chief Auditor Thomas Clarke. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Margaret A. Jones. Catherine Wagner is the Rochester Regional Director and the Upstate Chief of Criminal Investigations for MFCU. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney.