A Nassau County Supreme Court ruling will change how Cold Springs Hills center will operate


Woodmere resident Benjamin Landa, who was previously a landowner of the Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Woodbury, will be required to pay $500,000 of the $2 million in restitution required by a court ruling.

The 588-bed nursing home will also is now required to have an independent oversight group take over patient care at in Woodbury.

The March 15 decision by Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Lisa Cairo stems from a lawsuit brought by state Attorney General Letitia James after an investigation that alleged understaffing resulted in harm to the patients.

It was alleged that patients weren’t bathed regularly and developed infections after sitting in their waste — examples that “clearly establish” the nursing home’s inability to meet quality of care standards required by the law, the judge ruled.

“The court’s order to appoint an independent health care monitor at Cold Spring Hills will substantially improve residents’ care and quality of life,” James said in a statement, adding that her office will review the decision, decide on future actions and continue to ensure nursing homes are held accountable for patient care.

James filed the lawsuit in December 2022, claiming Landa and a dozen other people misappropriated more than $22 million, and redirected $15.3 million from Medicaid and Medicare programs into the organization that owns it, Cold Spring Realty.

“Absolutely the attorney general overreached, going after for the first time and asserting allegedly that a member of a real estate entity was responsible for the alleged wrong doings of an operation,” Fensterman said.

Fensterman noted that Landa had divested himself as an owner of Cold Spring Hills Center as of April 1, 2019 nearly a year before the Covid-19 pandemic, when the virus fatally struck nursing home residents.

The ruling is somewhat of a victory for Cold Spring Realty, as the rehab facility does not have to pay tens of millions in fines, have someone monitor the facility’s finances and have another owner, Bent Philipson, removed.

James’s lawsuit accused Cold Spring Realty of financial fraud, claiming the group pocketed $22.5 million through three illegal schemes with Medicaid and Medicare money that was intended to care for Cold Spring residents.

The legal action also claimed that Cold Spring paid $5.2 million to several other entities for what was described as “consulting,” and that another $2 million was part of a fraudulent promissory note scheme.

“They tried to tie Landa with his daughter, Esther Farkovits, who is a full-time resident of Israel and a passive investor,” Fensterman said, adding that all that information was disclosed to the State Department of Health, the entity that oversees nursing homes.

James initiated a crackdown on nursing homes with multiple lawsuits in 2022. The Fulton Commons Care Center Inc. in East Meadow pleaded guilty earlier this month to a cover up will pay up to $8.6 million after a settlement with the state Attorney General’s office, and agreed to install monitors to reform the nursing home’s health care and financial operations because of years of fraud and resident mistreatment.

“For years, residents at Fulton Commons endured despicable mistreatment that left them with traumatic injuries and humiliating living conditions while the owners and operator of the facility pocketed millions of dollars of taxpayer funds instead of investing in critical care,” James said previously in a news release.

There is another case pending involving Landa and Lawrence resident Bernard Fuchs concerning upstate Village of Orleans Health & Rehabilitation Center and the alleged redirection of $18.6 million from Medicaid and Medicare.

“The judge upstate is far less receptive to the attorney general,” Fensterman said, noting no motions or oral arguments are on the docket.