Former Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny, who represented portions of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Brighton Beach and Coney Island from 2007 through 2015 has been indicted in connection with a sting operation targeting three Brooklyn medical clinics that investigators allege were “pill mills” which illegally prescribed opioid painkillers while also fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars worth of unnecessary medical tests, physical therapy and psychiatric services.
Brook-Krasny — who stepped down from his post on July 7, 2015 to take a job in the private sector — was one of 13 people netted in the bust, executed by the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s New York Division on Friday, April 7. The defendants (minus Brook-Krasny, who was out of the country according to reports) were arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday afternoon on a total of 477 indictments, including money laundering.
Investigators allege that patients were convinced to submit to unnecessary testing and other procedures by promising them prescriptions for oxycodone — totaling some 6.3 million pills between mid-2013 and early 2017, according to investigators — which they could resell for a significant profit on the black market.
The office visits and unnecessary procedures were billed through Medicare and Medicaid, with the three clinics netting over $24 million in revenue, with approximately $13 million processed through the city’s MetroPlus Health Plan, a division of New York Health + Hospitals Corporation.
According to the indictment, patients received the prescriptions despite getting only minimal physical examinations or none at all, and even when the drugs would have been medically inappropriate, and investigators allege that the clinics provided the prescriptions “in the face of evidence that they were likely selling pills or abusing other narcotic drugs,” including patients who had tested positive for other narcotics.
Brook-Krasny’s involvement relates to his affiliation with Quality Laboratory Services in Sheepshead Bay, which investigators say, beginning in late 2016, handled the vast majority of drug urinalyses for two of the medical clinics involved, and got reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid for them.
In addition, investigators allege, Brook-Krasny “arranged for test results to be altered to remove contraindications for opioid prescribing,” such as deleting results that showed alcohol use by those receiving the prescriptions.
Besides Brook-Krasny, the defendants include Dr. Lazar Feygin, Dr. Paul McClung, Konstantin Zeva, Rachel Smolitsky, Vyacheslav Maksakov and Pavel Krasnou — who were all charged in connection with running the trio of medical clinics — Parkville Medical Health in Kensington, LF Medical Services of NY in Clinton Hill and PM Medical P.C. in the Kings Highway area — where the illegal activities allegedly occurred.
The long-term investigation, known to those involved as “Operation Avalanche,” began in 2013 and included wiretapping, surveillance, review of medical and financial records and interviews with patients and former employees, by a team composed of representatives from a laundry list of agencies, including also the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, the state Health Department’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI).
“The defendants are crooks who stole millions from New York City’s cash-strapped healthcare system,” asserted Mark Peters, commissioner of DOI. “They used pain pills instead of revolvers, but they robbed the city all the same.”
The medical professionals, added Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, “are accused of betraying their oaths as healers and healthcare providers.” Their actions, he went on, “not only extended the vile cycle of opiate abuse, but also attacked our ability as a society to fulfill the basic moral imperative to provide support and appropriate health care for the neediest among us. At a time when so many families are struggling to afford health care, and others are wrestling with addiction, it is particularly deplorable.”