A pharmacist from Rockland and one from Westchester County were arrested today on charges of stealing more than $500,000 from New York’s Medicaid program, which serves the poor and disabled, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today. Shaheen Begum, 57, of New City and Syed Rahman, 62, of Briarcliff Manor are accused of conspiring to use Rahman’s pharmacy to bill Medicaid after Begum’s Kwik Aid Pharmacy was barred from participating in the program.
Begum and Rahman were arraigned in Rockland County Court in New City. They face five to 15 years in prison if they are convicted of the top charge of second-degree grand larceny. Schneiderman’s office also brought charges against the pharmacies they own and operate— Kwik Aid Pharmacy of New City, Haverstraw Pharmacy of Garnerville, and Prescription Plus Corp., a Briarcliff Manor pharmacy.
“When unscrupulous operators scam the system, they are stealing from the taxpayers and threatening programs that are intended to provide vital health services to low income individuals and families,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
The state determined in 2008 that Begum and Kwik Aid Pharmacy were guilty of professional misconduct, and they were kicked out of the Medicaid program. Begum allegedly conspired with Rahman to submit claims under Prescription Plus’ Medicaid provider number, the attorney general said. The two pharmacists are charged with setting up the same scheme with Haverstraw Pharmacy, which had never been approved as a Medicaid provider, Schneiderman said.
In 2011, Schneiderman bolstered his office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and created a Taxpayer Protection Bureau. The unit has charged dozens of health-care professionals and corporations in the last two years— including doctors, pharmacists and nurses—with Medicaid fraud. The state has recovered more than $478 million in stolen Medicaid funds.