716 Transportation Billed for Transports in Violation of Medicaid Regulations; Driver Paid Kickbacks to Medicaid Recipient for Phony Transport Services.
New York, NY - October 16, 2018 - Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced that 716 Transportation, Inc., a Medicaid medical transportation provider, and its President Wossen Ambaye were sentenced today for stealing $1.2 million from the Medicaid program. Ambaye was sentenced to three years’ conditional discharge and 150 hours of community service by Erie County Supreme Court Judge John Michalski. 716 Transportation was sentenced to pay a fine of $10,000. As a condition of his plea, Ambaye was also required to pay $900,497 in restitution to the state.
Haimid Thompson, a.k.a. Mookie, a taxi driver for 716 Transportation, Inc., was also sentenced for stealing over $7,500 from the Medicaid program on September 28, 2018. Thompson, 48, of Jamestown, was sentenced as a Second Felony Offender to 2 to 4 years in prison with the possibility of parole release supervision by Erie County Supreme Court Judge Paul Wojtaszek. As a condition of his plea, Thompson was required to pay $23,598 in restitution to the state.
“We have zero tolerance for those who try to bilk the Medicaid system,” said Attorney General Underwood. “New Yorkers fund – and rely on – these programs to adequately provide resources to the vulnerable citizens that need them. My office will continue to root out Medicaid fraud wherever it occurs.”
In July 2018, 716 Transportation pled guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a class “C” felony) and Company President Wossen Ambaye pled guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class “D” felony) for obtaining over $1.2 million in Medicaid payments by falsely representing that transportation services had been provided in accordance with Medicaid rules and regulations when, in fact, Ambaye knew that services billed were never provided or were provided in direct violation of the rules and regulations.
Also in July 2018, Thompson pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (a class “E” felony). In pleading guilty, Thompson admitted that in February 2017, he paid an individual who was working with investigators – identified in court documents as Medicaid Recipient A – $100 for signing up to receive fake or phony services from 716 Transportation and $300 for each week that Medicaid Recipient A remained with the company. Thompson further acknowledged that over a three-week period in February and March 2017, he submitted Daily Driver Logs to 716 indicating that he provided daily round-trip transports for Medicaid Recipient A between Jamestown and Buffalo, though those transports did not actually occur. Thompson also admitted that 716 then obtained over $7,500 in payment on Medicaid claims based on the false Daily Driver Logs he submitted to the company.
The Attorney General thanks the New York State Police, the New York State Department of Financial Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General for their assistance in this investigation.
The investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was conducted by Investigator Milagro Bosque, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator James Zablonski and Auditor-Investigator Sean McShea, all under the supervision of Regional Chief Auditor Frank Zeffiro. William Falk is the Deputy Chief Investigator - Upstate.
The cases were prosecuted by Gary A. Baldauf, Buffalo Regional Director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Catherine Wagner is Chief of Criminal Investigations - Upstate. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett.