HILLSDALE—State Police from the Livingston barracks arrested Thomas P. Golden, 35, of Craryville for second degree kidnapping, a class B felony, and criminal obstruction of breathing, a class A misdemeanor, July 9.
Troopers responded to a domestic dispute on Whippoorwill Road in Hillsdale, July 8 at 9:30 p.m.
A subsequent investigation determined that Mr. Golden allegedly used physical force, and threatened the use of deadly force, to abduct the victim. Mr. Golden and the victim were familiar with one another, police said.
After several hours in captivity, the victim was able to flee to safety, and contacted the State Police. Mr. Golden was found and taken into custody at an address on Route 23 in Craryville.
He was arraigned in Claverack Court before Justice Michael Brandon and sent to the Columbia County Jail without bail. He was ordered to appear in Hillsdale Court at a later date.
Michael Sweatt, 44, of Hudson was charged with second degree strangulation, a class D felony; third degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child, both class A misdemeanors, by Deputies Joseph Bruno and Jerald Rowell, June 20 at 6:38 a.m.
Mr. Sweatt is accused of choking a female to a point when she reportedly temporarily lost consciousness during a domestic incident. He is also accused of punching the victim causing injury. This allegedly occurred in the presence of children at the residence.
Mr. Sweatt was arraigned in Greenport Court and posted $1,000 bail. He was to return to court at a later date.
Jimmy McBroom, 44, of Pine Plains was charged with fourth degree criminal mischief and second degree criminal contempt, both class A misdemeanors, by Sergeant Jeffrey Hofstetter and Deputy Jordan Brahm, June 24 at 8:15 p.m.
Mr. McBroom is accused of breaking a cell phone and violating an order of protection against a victim at a private residence in Copake. He was arraigned in Copake Court and released on his own recognizance pending an August 26 return court date.
Andrea Walker, 46, of Castleton was charged on a warrant for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a class A misdemeanor, by Deputies Peter Merante and Brandon Rice, June 17 at 2:11 p.m.
Ms. Walker is accused of using a motor vehicle without consent from the owner. She was arraigned in Ghent Court and was released on her own recognizance with a return date of July 15.
The following face drug- and/or alcohol-related charges:
• Aaron Williams, 60, of Philmont was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor, by K9 Deputy Jason Garvey and Deputy Philipp Gomm June 22 at 6:28 p.m. Deputies responded to the Hannaford supermarket in Valatie for report of male using drugs in the parking lot. When Mr. Williams was located he allegedly possessed of a quantity of cocaine. He was issued an appearance ticket returnable in Kinderhook Town Court at a later date.
• Lucian Brown, 25, of Athens was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor; unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation; speed not prudent, following too closely, and failure to signal a turn, all traffic infractions, by Deputy Daniel Keyser, June 23 at 9:35 a.m. Mr. Brown was stopped on Main Street in Germantown after he nearly struck a vehicle due to the above listed infractions. He was found in possession of concentrated cannabis and a quantity of marijuana. He was issued appearance tickets returnable in Germantown Court at a later date.
• State Police conducted plain-clothes checks of 11 retail establishments in Columbia County where alcohol is sold to see if they complied with New York State’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Law, June 28. The enforcement initiative resulted the arrest of Meaghan L. Todd, 34, of Ghent, an employee of the Hillsdale House, 2634 State Route 23 in Hillsdale, on a charge of first degree unlawful dealing with a child, a class A misdemeanor. Ms. Todd was issued an appearance ticket returnable in Hillsdale Court July 17.
• Casey S. Potts, 23, of Pittsfield, MA, was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) by State Police from New Lebanon, June 30. Mr. Potts was traveling on State Route 20 in New Lebanon, when he was involved in a one-car motor vehicle crash. An investigation revealed he was under the influence of alcohol. He was subsequently arrested.
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Valatie doctor charged in telemedicine kickback scheme
By ROBERT GAVIN
Reprinted with permission from the Times Union
VALATIE—An anesthesiologist from Columbia County is charged with taking kickbacks in a Medicare fraud scheme in which she prescribed knee braces and topical cream for patients she never met or examined—including a man who could not walk.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn say Dr. Anna Steiner, 63, of Valatie and others ordered the medical equipment and prescriptions in connection with supposed telemedicine services, which allow patients in remote areas to receive health care virtually.
But Dr. Steiner—a/k/a, Hanna Wasielewska—and providers signed prescriptions and order forms that were not necessary, prosecutors said. The prescriptions were induced by kickbacks and provided for patients whom neither Dr. Steiner nor the others had examined.
Prosecutors allege Dr. Steiner and others caused more than $7 million in claims to Medicare, the taxpayer-funded health care for older Americans, on behalf of more than 3,000 beneficiaries. Medicare paid out more than $3million on the claims, they said.
On July 9, Dr. Steiner pleaded not guilty before U.S. District Judge Leo Glasser after being arraigned on a one-count indictment charging her with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The defendant, who was initially arrested in April, is free on $300,000 bond.
“Dr. Steiner is innocent and she looks forward to her day in court,” James Bell, the defendant’s Dallas-based attorney, told the Times Union in an email.
Dr. Steiner was listed as the provider on two claims to Medicare for patients in Staten Island. In one of the cases, an $827 claim was submitted November 28, 2016 to pay for a man’s knee brace and suspension sleeve. In February, the man told investigators he had never heard of Dr. Steiner or been treated over the phone.
The man “reported that he had no need for a knee brace as he cannot walk,” an FBI agent stated in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
Another claim for $393 was submitted to Medicare on behalf of a Staten Island patient who supposedly needed topical cream for psoriasis. In February 2019, the man told investigators he had neither met nor been treated by Dr. Steiner—and noted that he had recently been receiving calls from telemarketers who knew his birthday and Social Security number.
The complaint listed multiple other examples of alleged fraud in which claims worth thousands of dollars apiece were submitted on behalf of patients who said they never needed the equipment or other items and did not recognize Dr. Steiner’s name, who was identified as the referring provider.
The FBI and inspector general’s office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services investigated the case. The complaint said Dr. Steiner engaged in the alleged scheme beginning in January 2015 through at least April 2018.
Court filings state that in September 2015, Dr. Steiner told an HHS investigator that she contracted with an agency to provide telemedicine services, though she could not remember its name. She told the investigator the agency contracted with other companies that gave her patient information via email and connected her with patients on the phone, the complaint said.
That month, Dr. Steiner told the investigator the agency paid her $30 for each phone consultation she completed. But Dr. Steiner later sent an email in which she said the payments were contingent on her generating a prescription. She said she was paid $30 “for one patient to talk and give script,” the complaint said. The interactions lasted an average of 15 minutes, she claimed.
Also in September 2015, Dr. Steiner forwarded an email in which she said she worked for a company that paid medical providers to give telemedicine to patients. In the email, she said she would get “$30 per patient who needs an order from pharmacy,” the complaint said.
In that email, Dr. Steiner said she would no longer order knee braces for patients because it was “not worth it for $30.” But the complaint states that Medicare claims showed she was still listed as the referring provider for orthotic brace claims as recent as December 2017.
In December 2016, an HHS investigator—who did not identify himself as an agent—asked Dr. Steiner if she lived in New York or California because he had conflicting information. Dr. Steiner, without being prompted, asked the investigator if it was legal to be paid $30 for writing a prescription for braces—and noted she had also been paid $30 for prescribing pain cream.