Money malpractice: Ex-SUNY physician charged with grand larceny for million-dollar theft to support ‘lavish lifestyle’

100 new US dollar bills on black background
The former chairman of emergency medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center has been charged with grand larceny and fraud for stealing close to $1.5 million from the company.
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The doctor will scam you now. 

The former chair of emergency medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center is facing criminal charges after he allegedly used his company credit card to steal close to $1.5 million from the institution.

Officials say the defendant, 66-year-old Dr. Michael Lucchesi of Staten Island, used the charge card to pay for personal travel plans, catering expenses, college tuition, cash advances and a high-end pet resort. His “lavish lifestyle” eventually caught up to him, landing him a nine-count indictment, announced Tuesday by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang.

Charges include first- and second-degree grand larceny, falsifying business records and criminal tax fraud.

“As a high-ranking doctor at this vital healthcare institution this defendant was entrusted with access to significant funds, which he allegedly exploited, stealing more than one million dollars to pay for a lavish lifestyle,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “The scope of the alleged thefts is shocking, and my office is committed to holding accountable anyone who rips off the taxpayers.”

Evidence from the investigation shows Lucchesi allegedly spent $1.448 million between December 2016 and January 2023. SUNY discovered the thefts during an audit, which detailed Lucchesi’s exorbitant spending habits. 

SUNY Downstate
SUNY Downstate Medical Center.File photo courtesy of SUNY Downstate

The pilfering physician allegedly racked up a bill of $115,000 in cash advances, $348,000 in travel, $109,000 towards membership and training with the New York Sports Club, $52,000 in catering expenses, $46,000 in tuition for his children and $176,000 for pet care, which included a $120,000 payment to The Greenleaf Pet Resort and Hotel in New Jersey. (Talk about a pampered pet.)

The investigation also uncovered assorted payments for online shopping, flowers, liquor, electronics and other items, before retiring last year.

“New Yorkers deserve doctors who uphold their oath with the utmost integrity,” Lang said in a statement. “The spending spree on the State’s dime alleged here is an insult to hardworking taxpayers and the medical profession.”

However, Lucchesi’s lawyers told The Post that the claims aren’t all they seem to be. “There’s more to these allegations than meets the eye,” Earl Ward told the outlet.

Lucchesi, who also spent time as an acting head of Downstate’s hospital and medical school, was arraigned in front of Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo on July 9. He was released without bail and will return to the court on Sept. 25.

The charges come after a year of financial woes for the institution, with locals rallying to help save the East Flatbush hospital from closure.