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LI Pediatric Practice To Pay $750,000 Answering Allegations Improper Medicaid Billing

Long Island-based pediatrics practice Freed, Kleinberg, Nussbaum, Festa & Kronberg M.D., LLP, doing business as Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (the “Practice”), as well as current and former partner physicians of the Practice, including Arnold W. Scherz, M.D., Mitchell Kleinberg, M.D., Michael Nussbaum, M.D., Robert Festa, M.D., and Jason Kronberg, D.O. (“Partners”), have agreed to pay $750,000 to resolve allegations that they billed the Medicaid Program for services provided by physicians who were not enrolled in the program.  The settlement, which resolved government claims under the federal False Claims Act and the New York State False Claims Act, was approved by United States District Judge Joanna Seybert.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the settlement.

“Providers serving Medicaid beneficiaries must be properly credentialed and thoroughly vetted to ensure that proper care is provided and to preserve the integrity of the Medicaid Program, which serves our neediest citizens,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Today’s settlement reflects this Office’s commitment to safeguarding taxpayer programs like Medicaid by vigorously investigating allegations of fraud in False Claims Act cases.”

Mr. Donoghue thanked the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Office of the New York State Attorney General for its assistance in the investigation.

The government’s investigation revealed that, from July 1, 2004 through December 31, 2010, the Practice and Partners employed a number of physicians who were not enrolled in the Medicaid Program who provided care to Medicaid patients.  Because the physicians were not enrolled in the program, the Practice and Partners could not seek reimbursement from Medicaid for the services provided by these physicians.  The defendants nonetheless did so by submitting requests for payment under the Partners’ Medicaid provider identification numbers, thereby misrepresenting the identities of the individuals who were actually providing treatment to the Practice’s pediatric Medicaid beneficiaries.  This improper billing practice occurred at many of the Practice’s Long Island locations, including facilities in Holbrook, Port Jefferson, Shirley and Wading River.  

The allegations were brought to the government’s attention through the filing of a complaint pursuant to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  Under the Act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. 

The government’s case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jolie Apicella of the Office’s Civil Division. 

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 14-CV-3943 (JS)


Man Used Counterfeit Bills At Smithtown Crazy Crepe

Wanted for Criminal Possession of Forged Instrument

Release Date:  April 3, 2017

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County Police Fourth Squad detectives are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate a man who used counterfeit bills at a Saint James store. 

A man used seven counterfeit $100 bills at Crazy Crepe, located at 71 East Main Street, on March 18 at approximately 9:30 p.m. The suspect paid for merchandise with eleven $100 bills, and only the first four bills were real. The other seven were fake bills labeled “FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY” in bold print. The man is described as Hispanic, approximately 20 years old, with black hair and full beard, weighing approximately 300 pounds, and wearing glasses. 

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637) or by email at www.tipsubmit.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.  

Authority:  D/Sgt. Wayne Hutzel  CC# 18-171435 Fourth Squad Detectives CW# 18-125/RC


Amy's Perspective - Town Board Is Not Off To A Good Start

By Amy Fortunato

Town Board Meeting-

Hopeful to find a good seat, I arrived early – 6:30 PM on Thursday, January 25th. The addition of security guards in uniform for the first time were off-putting.  I asked the guards about the need for their presence.  They joked good naturedly.  But, it’s not welcoming. 

I knew there were three presentations scheduled for this regular meeting and advertised as public forums.  Earlier in the day, I queried Supervisor Ed Wehrheim and our Town Clerk, Vincent Puleo about the room inadequate size of the room.  Obviously it would not accommodate the potential residents who are interested in the various, important presentations.  He told me it was too late to change the location.  The advertised public forums to be presented were: King’s Park Market Analysis sponsored by the King’s Park Civic Association, Cell Tower information presentation for consideration of a possible code exception and the Smithtown United’s NY Ave. proposal toward the completion of a Comprehensive Master Plan.   

As the room filled up, I gave my seat to one of the presenters of the King’s Park market analysis report presentation.  Many of us were stranded, waited outside the room on the stair landing until my neighbor Gerry Halloway tried to find a seat.  Gerry is 80 yrs. old, recently recovering from an accident and dependent on his cane to stabilize his balance.  Sadly, the security guard told him there were no seats and Gerry would have to stand.  At that point, I insisted that someone inside the room give up their seat for our senior citizen.  When Gerry was seated, I left the room again to wait outside with approximately ten others.  There was no way to hear the discussion taking place in the meeting room.  Then, we were asked to be quiet because those inside the room were distracted by our conversations.

It’s imprudent to invite Smithtown residents and then clearly NOT anticipate that those interested citizens would actually attend these advertised, public forums.  The room has approximately 35 chairs, which are usually empty.  Granted, this is a recent phenomenon; but this undersized room has been fully populated during the last two, most recent, previous Town Council meetings.  The disappointed consensus of those who tried to attend (stairs, landing and down the hallways) was obvious.  I called the next day to express my concern.  Ed Wehrheim returned my call, but I didn’t experience any satisfaction or assurance of creating a better, more appropriate accommodation.  

The presentations are available on-line; but I was there to participate and show my concern.  It’s time to consider the Smithtown community by providing adequate space and hearing from those concerned and respond accordingly.    


Amy Fortunato is a Smithtown resident who ran on the Democratic line for Smithtown Town Council in 2017.


Nesconset Man Arrested For Sexually Abusing Teenager And Child Pornography


Suffolk County Police arrested a Nesconset man for sexually abusing a teenager and possessing child pornography.

James SheahanFollowing an investigation into child pornography, Computer Crimes Unit detectives and members of the New York State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executed a search warrant at the home of James Sheahan. During the search of the home child pornography was recovered and detectives discovered, in an unrelated case, that Sheahan had sexually abused a teenage boy.

Sheahan was arrested at 7 a.m. and charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Sex Abuse 2nd Degree and Possession of a Sexual Performance by a Child, a felony. He was arraigned in First District Court on January 11.

Sheahan, 19, is a part-time employee at a hockey equipment store located in Suffolk County. Due to the sensitive nature of this ongoing investigation, details surrounding the abuse will not be released. Parents who have information related to this case or have concern for their children are asked to call the Computer Crimes Unit at 631-852-6279.

A criminal charge is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


Letter To Editor - It Is Both A Shame And Honor To Write This - St. James FD

The Saint James Fire Department has been vigilantly responding to alarms of its residents since 1922.  For nearly one hundred years, your friends and neighbors, son and daughters, father and mothers have stopped whatever they were doing to come to your aid.  During the middle of a summer day or in the midst of a night time winter storm, the members of the St. James Fire Department have always been there to protect life and property in their community.  In 2017, the Saint James Fire Department will have closed out the year answering 1400 alarms.  The members of the department would have dedicated an average additional 8 hours a week in training and meetings to further ensure any response will be swift, decisive and professional.  We, your Fire Fighters, Officers, EMT’s and Paramedics do this for you with no expectation of return whatsoever.  We do it selflessly for you, and will continue to do so without question.

There has been much talk around our community pertaining to Fire House construction and now sale of one house by the Fire District back to the membership of Fire Department who had originally owned it since 1922.  Unfortunately, in some rare cases this has fueled some animosity between the brothers and sisters of our proud department.  Perhaps the words in this letter can help assuage some of these recent occurrences; because in the end we all want what is best for those we serve.

It is not uncommon within a group of such dedicated and highly trained members that true leaders emerge.  I’d like to direct your attention to one such devoted leader that has been misrepresented by some in the media.  That is Chief Edward Springer Sr.  Ed is a lifelong resident of Saint James.  He was born and raised in our community, attended school and worshiped in Saint James.  

In 1971, at the age of 18, Mr. Springer joined the Saint James Fire Department and thus began his 40-year career in the Fire Service.  The only interruption of his time in the SJFD, was when he answered his Country’s call to duty by serving proudly in the United States Army’s elite 101 Airborne Division from 1972 to 1975.  Upon receiving his honorable discharge from the Army as a Sergeant, Mr. Springer returned home to his beloved Saint James.  This was 1975, over 40 years ago.  Many of the residents who lived in town then have moved on.  However, Mr. Springer did not and made a choice to stay and raise his family in Saint James.   

During his tenure in the fire service, Mr. Springer attained the ranks of Chief of the Department, President of the Saint James Fire Department in 2007 and 2008, and was elected to the Board of Fire Commissioners for two consecutive terms.  He held line officer positions at the lieutenant and captain’s level in the venerable Engine Co.1 of the SJFD along the way.  While devoting his time to Saint James, Mr. Springer was employed as the Chief Fire Marshal of the Northport Veterans Administration Hospital, and then served as a Suffolk County Fire Marshal and ultimately being promoted to Chief Fire Marshal of Suffolk County where he served until his recent retirement.  During his employment with Suffolk County, Mr. Springer served one year as the New York State Emergency Management Office Downstate Representative.  

Who is Ed Springer you ask?  Mr. Springer is one of the humblest men we have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  He is honest and sincere.  He helps new recruits (probies) with Fire Academy learning. He takes a phone call about a question related to the fire service at 9PM on a Sunday night when most others wouldn’t want to not answer the phone.  He volunteers his time to the American Legion where for the last four years he serves as a Post Commander. You can find him at the fire house the night before our St. Patrick’s Day Parade cooking and slicing 100 pounds of corned beef for the community to feast on the next day.  He is the guy who sits at the bedside of a member who is about to pass on and softly speaks comforting words to him.  He is the guy who takes his bunker coat off at a motor vehicle accident alarm and puts it over the patient trapped in the car so that they don’t get hit by shards of metal and glass as we cut the car apart.  He is the first guy to ask if you are okay and offer his hand when he hears that someone important in your life has passed away.  He is equally there for us to celebrate the successes in our lives as well.  Ed Springer Sr. is that guy. Frankly, these are not simply words on a page, these are all the things I/we have seen Mr. Springer do, time and time again.   

It is our hope that this allays any false impression that has been put forth about the character of Mr. Springer.  Mr. Springer has been, and remains committed to improving the working conditions of the Saint James Fire Department by putting forth great effort in designs for a new fire house that went through two iterations and two bond votes.  In all cases he has worked in earnest of the tax payer’s wishes and fire fighters/EMS personnel needs.  

It is a both a shame and honor to have to write this.  The shame comes from the maligning of an iconic and devoted member of our department.  The honor is in defending his character, one which we should all endeavor to be more like.  


The Board of Director and Desk Officers of the Saint James Fire Department

January 3, 2018