A Brooklyn therapist said she had 51 sessions counseling developmentally disabled children during a week-long period in the summer of 2016, according to authorities.
But there’s no way that Lyubov Beylina, 30, was in the sessions her invoices claimed — and a photo of her on Facebook proves it, according to federal prosecutors in the New York.
That photo, which is Exhibit A in a federal complaint unsealed this week, shows Beylina smiling on a sandy beach in the Dominican Republic, wearing a pink swimsuit and holding an iguana for the camera. During that same time period, though, fraudulent invoices suggested Beylina was performing therapy session after therapy session, prosecutors said.
Beylina and seven other New York and New Jersey therapists were arrested Thursday and are accused of stealing more than $600,000 in government funds meant to help developmentally-disabled children get therapy, prosecutors said.
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Beylina alone is accused of taking some $41,000, including $24,000 in Medicaid funds and more than $17,000 in New York City health department funds.
“The victims of this fraud include not only the children and their families who were deprived of the therapeutic care that these defendants claimed to have performed, but ultimately the taxpayers whose taxes support Medicaid,” Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.
The program the therapists are accused of stealing from is the New York Early Intervention Program, which gives remedial services to developmentally-disabled children under the age of three, prosecutors said. Medicaid and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene fund the program.
From 2012 to this year, the eight therapists claimed to have performed thousands of therapy sessions that never took place, and then got Medicaid and city health department reimbursements that amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen funds, prosecutors said.
Federal prosecutors said that, in many instances, the therapists were out of state — and in Beylina’s case out of the country — during their faked therapy sessions. Many of the therapists worked other jobs during the fraudulent sessions, including two who worked full-time as New York City public school teachers, prosecutors said. And some of them even lied about performing two therapy sessions for two children in different places, all during the same time period, prosecutors said.
Therapists involved in the schemes forged paperwork — including signatures of parents, daycare workers and teachers — to make the sessions look real, according to prosecutors.
Investigators used cell phone records, school attendance information and court-authorized GPS trackers on vehicles to show the therapists weren’t at the sessions they claimed to have attended.
Beylina and the seven other therapists — Kaderrah Doyle, Cara Steinberg, Marina Golfo, Ego Onaga, Danielle Scopinich, Patricia Hakim and Enock Mensah — were set to appear in court on Thursday.
A conviction on the charges they face could mean up to 10 years in prison, prosecutors said.