A combined $370,000 in stolen Medicaid, food stamps and other public assistance benefits has led to the arrests of 12 people, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced on May 30.
Joint investigations by the District Attorney’s Public Assistance Fraud Unit and the Nassau County Department of Social Services Special Investigations Unit produced the arrests, which were made over a span of more than six months.
The first arrests were made on Nov. 13, when Jeffrey Lovelidge, 49, and Rosemarie Lovelidge, 42, of Merrick, were charged with second-degree grand larceny, second-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.
According to Rice, between August 2002 and May 2012, the Lovelidges stole more than $117,000 in Medicaid benefits by failing to report Jeffrey’s ownership of two restoration and cleaning businesses, and yearly deposits into their personal bank accounts of between $46,000 and $300,000. The two are due back in court on June 20 and, if convicted, face up to 15 years in prison.
The Lovelidges’ attorney, Harrison Edwards, said his clients have pleaded not guilty and vehemently deny any wrongdoing. Edwards added that the Lovelidges, who have five children, have no criminal history.
The most recent arrest occurred on May 29, when Nancy Figueroa, 41, of Oceanside, was charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Figueroa stole more than $21,000 in Medicaid benefits by under-reporting her income and failing to disclose that she owned a house-cleaning business between September 2006 and December 2011, Rice said. Figueroa faces up to seven years in prison.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that 10 percent of health care spending is lost to fraud and abuse. Nassau County spends more than $1 billion per year to fund its portion of the Medicaid mandate. New York state’s $52.6 billion annual bill is more than any other state.