Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Queens Doctor, Alexander Israeli, M.D., Pleads Guilty to No-Fault Insurance Fraud

Billed Insurers for Costly Medical Tests Never Performed; Medical License To Be Revoked

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced yesterday that a Middle Village physician who was to begin trial on charges of falsely billing insurance carriers under New York’s no-fault law for costly medical tests never provided to motor vehicle accident victims has pleaded guilty in the case. He is the second doctor charged with insurance fraud from the same Jamaica, Queens, clinic.

District Attorney Brown said, “No-fault fraud and abuse is a billion dollar a year business in New York fueled by unethical health care professionals. Such rip-offs are costing the typical New York motorist $300 to $400 a year in higher insurance premiums and are the major reason why New York’s automobile insurance coverage costs an average of nearly $2,000 per driver, the second highest in the nation. Today’s guilty plea sends a clear message to those who are attempting to use the system for their own personal gain that law enforcement’s fight against insurance fraud is ongoing and that those who cheat will be sought out and brought to justice.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Alexander Israeli, 57, of 61-59 Dry Harbor Road in Middle Village, Queens, who practiced at L&B Medical, located at 153-25 Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens. The defendant pleaded guilty today to fourth-degree insurance fraud before Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory L. Lasak in satisfaction of the charges pending against him.  Justice Lasak set sentencing for February 25, 2009, at which time he indicated that he would sentence the defendant to a three-year conditional discharge.

District Attorney Brown said that the defendant was charged with submitting insurance claims for costly nerve conduction studies and needle electromyographs (“NCV/EMGs”) between January and December 2006 that, in fact, were not performed on seven individuals. A NCV tests the flow of electrical currents across the nerves, and an EMG is a recording of the electrical activity in muscles and nerves. As a result of the false claims, insurance companies paid out more than $21,000 to the defendant’s employer – the medical clinic.

The District Attorney said that, as a result of the defendant pleading guilty to a felony, the New York State Department of Health’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct will commence action to revoke his license to practice medicine in New York State.

Among the insurance companies victimized by the defendant’s scheme were GMAC Insurance Company, KEMPER Auto and Home Insurance, AllState Insurance Company and GEICO Insurance.

District Attorney Brown noted that a second physician who also practices at L&B Medical – Dr. Yakov Raufov – was charged on May 22, 2007, with third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, third- and fourth-degree insurance fraud and first-degree falsifying business records. He is scheduled to stand trial on March 9, 2009. Raufov, 43, of 21 Carlyle Drive in Glen Cove, Long Island, faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Assistant District Attorney Robert E. Miller, of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau, prosecuted the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gerard A. Brave, Bureau Chief, Mark Katz, Deputy Chief, and Mary M. Lowenburg, Chief of the Auto Crime and Insurance Fraud Unit, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigation Linda M. Cantoni.

The Queens County District Attorney's Office's full press release is here.

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