New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Thursday announced the arrest of Jeanine Santiago, a medical doctor, and Wendy Potter, a registered nurse, for allegedly billing Medicare and Medicaid more than $50,000 for physician services performed by Potter.
The felony charges state that the two conspired for Potter to offer physician services to hundreds of Santiagos elderly and infirm homebound patients. Santiago, 52, of Wappinger, N.Y., is charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony; Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree; Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree; and Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, class E felonies.
In a separate complaint, Wendy Potter, 50, of Fishkill, N.Y., is charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession.
If convicted on the top counts, Santiago faces up to 5 to 15 years and Potter faces up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison. Judge Heather L. Kitchen of the Town of Wappinger Justice Court arraigned the defendants and set bail in the amount of $1,000 cash or $2,000 bond for both defendants.
The complaints allege that Santiago gave Potter blank and pre-signed prescription slips issued in Santiagos name and that Potter, in her sole discretion, filled out the prescriptions, including for powerful narcotics such as morphine and oxycodone, and gave them to Santiagos patients. Santiago is charged with defrauding Medicare of more than $50,000 and Medicaid more than $1,000 by submitting claims for more expensive physician services that were in fact provided by a nurse.
"Doctors making house calls is a noble practice. Doctors stealing money and allowing home-bound patients to be treated by an untrained and unlicensed assistant is not," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "There has to be one set of rules for everyone, particularly when the health and well-being of our elderly citizens is at stake and how our taxpayer dollars are spent."
Santiagos practice was located in Dutchess County, where she and Potter treated in excess of 300 patients, most of them elderly. From 2008 through 2013, Potter worked for Santiago treating patients in their homes.
The charges come after a 16-month joint investigation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General and the New York State Police.