A Pennsylvania nursing home owner has been sentenced to four to twelve years in prison for stealing millions of dollars from New York taxpayers by fraudulently billing for services never provided to New York State Medicaid patients residing at his facility and for improperly obtaining payments from New York for services Pennsylvania was already reimbursing.
David Arnold, of Athens, Pennsylvania, and his corporation, Heritage Nursing Home, Inc., were convicted after a two-week bench trial this past January of one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree and three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree.
Appearing before Acting Albany County Court Judge Stephen Sirkin, Arnold was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison on the charge of Grand Larceny in the First Degree and concurrent terms of three to nine years on each count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree. He was also ordered to make $1 million in restitution to the Medicaid program.
Heritage Nursing Home, Inc., was sentenced to an unconditional discharge and fined $10,000.
We have a special responsibility to protect our more defenseless citizens from the greed of unscrupulous nursing home owners who callously fail to deliver needed health services, said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The sentence imposed today sends a clear message: nursing home owners who abandon and neglect their patients for personal gain will go to jail.
An overwhelming majority of the Heritage residents are New York patients. The evidence at trial established that, from 1991 through 2000, Arnold and Heritage Nursing Home failed to deliver needed services to hundreds of New York Medicaid recipients who resided in the home. These services included basic dental treatment and occupational and speech therapies for which Arnold and the Home billed the New York State Medicaid program millions of dollars.
Evidence introduced at trial established that patients were jeopardized by Arnolds conduct. The evidence showed that:
- hundreds of patients never saw a dentist during their time at Heritage, even though New York paid Heritage to deliver routine dental care to patients.
- patients with swallowing problems were fed with a turkey-baster-like syringe because it was quicker than feeding them with a spoon.
- numerous patients with swallowing problems that went untreated developed serious conditions, including aspiration pneumonia, which may have been preventable had Heritage delivered the speech therapy that New York paid the Home to deliver.
- other patients developed contractures, a stiffening of joints and muscles that is properly addressed with occupational therapy. These contractures became so severe that residents lost the ability to feed and dress themselves because they could not move their hands.
- between 1991 and 1997, no speech or occupational therapists were on staff at Heritage or on contract. Between 1991 and 2000, there was no dentist providing any routine examinations or care at the Home.
The case is part of the Attorney Generals statewide Nursing Home Initiative, which continues to examine the responsibility of nursing home owners and executives for conditions leading to poor patient care and abuse. The Initiative includes the investigation of out-of-state nursing homes that provide care to New York residents.