DA: Rich lady scammed program for the poor

DA: Rich lady scammed program for the poor
Brooklyn District Attorney

You might say she’s a real welfare queen.

A Brighton Beach woman who lives in a beach-front penthouse and owns three luxury cars has made taxpayers pay for her family’s healthcare for the past decade by defrauding the state’s Medicaid program that funds medical care for the poor, according to an indictment handed down by the District Attorney’s office.

Kristina Zelinsky, subsidized her lavish lifestyle to the tune of $25,000 in taxpayer money intended for the needy, according to DA Charles Hynes.

“Public assistance funds are meant to help families who can’t afford basic needs, such as health care,” said Hynes. “People like this defendant may think she is committing a victimless crime. But she and others who engage in this type of fraud are stealing thousands of dollars out of innocent people’s pockets.”

The 34-year-old resident of the Oceana Condominiums — who, records show, makes extravagant purchases from Juicy Couture — claimed that she was entirely dependent on her husband’s $22,000-per-year income when she filed for Medicaid back in 2003, and the city enrolled her, her husband, and their two children in the state’s Health Plus Medicaid Benefits program later that year, according to spokeswoman for the DA.

Zelinsky continued filing annual income disclosures ever since that never exceeded the Medicaid maximum-income guidelines, despite purchasing a penthouse condominium at Oceana in 2007 with an $850,000 mortgage, according to Hynes.

The alleged scamstress was depositing an average of $4,600 a month into her personal bank account throughout 2008, records show — nearly double the amount that Medicaid guidelines allow for a entire family of four.

Far from being dependent on her husband’s supposedly measly salary, investigators for Medicaid Inspector General James Cox found that Zelinsky was taking in money from her own business — Bronx-based Kristy’s Billing and Collection — which, ironically, profits from making residents of that predominantly poor borough pay their bills.

Hynes plans on using the defendant’s lavish spending habits against in her court, and said that purchases she made at Jimmy Choo, Juicy Couture, and several Vegas-area hotels and restaurants should help convince the jury that Zelinsky was ripping off the taxpayers.

If that weren’t enough, Cox found records of a Porsche, a BMW, and an Aston Martin — famously favored by James Bond — registered in her name.

“When a person such as Ms. Zelinsky lives in luxury and owns vehicles that most people only see in movies, New York State taxpayers should not finance her health care,” Cox said.

When reached by this paper, Zelinsky’s lawyer Jonathan Kaye didn’t sound too worried, predicting that once everything’s said and done, his client won’t be trading her beach front penthouse for a jail cell.

“She’s pleaded not guilty, she denies the allegation and, from what I’ve seen, I’m confident that when everything is finished and she’s had her day in court, she’ll be exonerated,” said Kaye.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4514.