Two women who co-own a pair of Sheepshead Bay pharmacies are facing 10 years apiece in prison for allegedly defrauding the federal government of $3 million in Medicare payments.
Brooklyn federal prosecutors indicted Luba Balyasny, 46, and Alla Shrayber, 40, on conspiracy to commit health care fraud charges on July 26 for allegedly charging the federal government for prescription drugs that were never dispensed to Medicare recipients.
The two pharmacies under Balyasny’s and Shrayber’s control — the L&A Pharmacy on Avenue X near E. Second Street and Monica’s Pharmacy on Sheepshead Bay Road at Avenue Z — submitted $23.6 million in prescription drug claims to Medicare between 2007 and 2009, federal prosecutors claim.
During that time, authorities say they quickly became the biggest prescription drug pushers in the area: red flags were raised when Medicare providers realized that L&A and Monica’s Pharmacies were putting in more prescription drug claims than the combined amount of a CVS, Rite Aid, Stop & Shop and Duane Reade located within miles of the mom-and-pop pharmacies. Taken together, those chains submitted $23.5 million worth of claims in the same two years, prosecutors said.
Once the disparity was discovered, federal investigators audited the books of L&A and Monica’s pharmacies, finding that requests for more than 869,000 units of prescription medications were submitted without any matching invoices.
Medicare honored those submissions — sending the pharmacies about $3 million before catching onto the scheme.
David Wikstrom, an attorney for Balyasny and Shrayber, declined to comment.
Brookdale CEO trial begins
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan began outlining their bribery conspiracy case against former Brookdale Hospital CEO David Rosen last week — and the Assistant U.S. District Attorney prosecuting the case made sure that state Sen. Carl Kruger (D–Brighton Beach) and Assemblyman William Boyland’s (D–Brownsville) alleged corrupt quid pro quo with the hospital exec were mentioned in excruciating detail.
U.S. Assistant District Attorney Glen McGorty said Kruger “wasn’t subtle” in his corrupt scheme with Rosen when he helped push MediSys Health Network’s agenda in the state legislature.
Rosen is accused of bribing Kruger, Boyland and former Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, all of whom allegedly steered millions in state dollars to Brookdale Hospital and MediSys.
The former CEO of Brookdale Hospital promised Kruger that Compassionate Care — a hospice company the embattled senator had a stake in — would get a contract with Brookdale Hospital, and gave no-show “consulting jobs” to both Boyland and Seminerio, McGorty claimed.
Seminerio — who was convicted of taking bribes in 2009 and died in prison earlier this year — received a $40,000-a-year consulting job with MediSys. Boyland, who worked in MediSys’s community affairs department before becoming a state legislator, was never terminated and continued to be paid by MediSys after he went to Albany, according to the allegation.
Using wiretapped conversations between Rosen, Seminerio and others, McGorty outlined an involved conspiracy that earned Rosen $15 million over 10 years.
“When you look at the evidence, David Rosen’s corrupt intent will be crystal clear,” he said.
Yet defense attorney Scott Morvillo said that McGorty’s case was nothing but smoke and mirrors. Rosen believed that the consulting contracts with Boyland and Seminerio were all above board and vetted by the legislative ethics committee and that “independent outside counsel” connected to MediSys had cleared all the negotiations.
Rosen is facing 20 years in prison if found guilty of bribery.