NEW ROCHELLE, NY —- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Kurien Palliankal, the owner of New Rochelle-based transportation company Carewell Ambulette, Inc., on felony charges for allegedly stealing more than $200,000 from the Medicaid program. The individual and his company are charged with altering transportation requests sent to them by medical facilities authorizing taxi pickups and dropoffs for Medicaid patients. The defendants are charged with doctoring the requests during a four year period to claim requests for ambulette service, which is paid by Medicaid at a rate four times higher than for taxis. The corporation and Palliankal, 48, of Yonkers, are charged with top counts of Second Degree Grand Larceny. Palliankal faces a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison.
“New York’s important Medicaid program ensures our neediest citizens have access to medical care and that they can get to their doctor,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Every dollar stolen from Medicaid impacts our state’s ability to provide this care to those most in need. My office will pursue individuals and companies who steal from the Medicaid program and deprive our citizens of health care.”
Transportation of Medicaid patients to medical facilities requires a request from the medical provider and a prior approval from Medicaid. The provider must request only the level of service which is medically necessary based upon the patient’s medical condition: ambulance, ambulette or taxi. These requests are forwarded to a transportation company, and the transportation company uses them to secure an approval and payment from Medicaid.
From July 2006 through March 2010, Palliankal and Carewell received over 4,000 request forms from medical providers authorizing taxi transportation. Palliankal changed these request forms from “taxi” to “ambulette,” causing Medicaid to pay a much higher rate for transportation – $31 per ride for ambulette service, compared to the reimbursement rate of $7.50 per ride for taxi service. By falsifying these records, Palliankal and Carewell were able to defraud Medicaid.
Palliankal and Carewell are each charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony; and five counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a class D felony; Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony; and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony.
Palliankal and the Corporation were arraigned today before the Honorable Susan Kettner in New Rochelle City Court. Palliankal was released on his own recognizance. The charges against the defendants are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The Attorney General would like to thank the Westchester County Department of Social Services for its assistance in conducting the investigation.
The investigation was led by Senior Investigator Frank Bluszcz, Supervising Investigator Peter Markiewicz, Supervising Auditor Investigator Lora Pomponio and Associate Auditor Investigator Melissa Stoebling.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General William McClarnon of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s Pearl River Regional Office, led by Regional Director Anne Jardine. MFCU’s Downstate Chief of Criminal Investigations is Thomas O’Hanlon. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is led by Acting Director Amy Held. The Criminal Justice Division of the Attorney General’s Office is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.