A Niagara Falls taxi company, its owner and its corporate secretary have been convicted for stealing thousands of dollars from Medicaid by billing the state for rides they never provided.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced the conviction on Wednesday of Wego Taxi Tours, Inc., its owner Sadat Khan, 31, of Niagara Falls, and its corporate secretary, Kashif Pervez, 37, also of Niagara Falls.
According to the plea agreements, Khan and Pervez falsely attested that they drove Medicaid recipients to and from particular addresses, when in fact the recipients did not live at those addresses and were never picked up or dropped off at those addresses. Khan submitted bills to Medicaid for these trips, resulting in Medicaid payments to Wego that it was not entitled to receive.
“These fraudsters’ free-riding days have come to a screeching halt,” James said. “Ghost rides hurt the Medicaid program, cost taxpayers money, and undermine needed transportation services that New Yorkers depend on every single day.”
Both Khan and Pervez pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the fourth degree, a class E felony, and were each sentenced to a three year conditional discharge. Additionally, Khan was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $143,610.70 and Pervez was ordered to pay restitution of $39,568.56.
Wego Taxi Tours, Inc. as a corporate defendant, pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the Fourth Degree for knowingly submitting claims to Medicaid which falsely represented that transportation services had been provided in accordance with Medicaid rules and regulations. Wego also executed a written agreement to forfeit $602,338.28 in withheld Medicaid payments as restitution to the State.
In separate pleas, three of Wego’s drivers – Marcus Mathis, 42, Chester Haugabook, 50, and William Medina, 36, all of Niagara Falls, were convicted of Medical Assistance Provider Prohibited Practices, a class E felony, under the social services law, for paying Medicaid recipients to falsely report their addresses to medical answering services. These false pick up addresses were located substantially farther away from the stated drop off locations than the Medicaid recipients’ actual pick up addresses, which allowed Wego to receive a higher monetary reimbursement based upon the increased mileage. According to the plea agreements, Wego billed Medicaid in excess of $7,500 for each Medicaid recipient for transportation that did not occur
All three drivers were sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay restitution: Mathis was ordered to pay $127,395.56, Haugabook was ordered to pay $98,421, and Medina was ordered to pay $260,574.46.
In total, ordered restitution for this matter was $1,277,098.56, according to the attorney general’s office.