NEW HYDE PARK, NY– A New Hyde Park chiropractic doctor used the identities of 3 daily chiropractic practitioners to submit insurance claims, bilking insurance carriers of over $800,000, the U.S. Attorney's office announced in a news release on Tuesday.
Between 2014 and 2016, Melissa Panayiota Kanes, 50, utilized the identities of other chiropractics physician practicing in Manhattan to hide her association with the claims since she was formerly flagged for submitting various claims, prosecutors stated. In one instance, she used the identity of another chiropractic specialist from a workplace near her own, in another, she sent claims for services under a chiropractic doctor's identity when she was taking a trip outside the United States, prosecutors stated.
She was charged with one count each of money laundering, healthcare scams, and worsened identity theft, district attorneys said. She faces anywhere between the mandatory 2 years in prison based upon the identity theft charge, and as much as 20 years in jail based on the top charge of money laundering, prosecutors stated.
She was apprehended on Tuesday on Long Island, district attorneys said.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss stated Kanes filed many deceitful health insurance claims, and they were numerous so that an insurance company “flagged her for suspicious billing, at which point she tried to prevent the analysis by submitting claims in the names of other chiropractic doctors without their knowledge.”
“Now Melissa Kanes is in custody and facing federal charges,” she stated.
The name of Kane's lawyer was not immediately available.
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. described the charges versus Kanes as “severe ones” that bring the possibility of a prolonged jail sentence.
“This case must function as a warning to others reluctant to make modifications to their illegal behavior– the federal criminal justice system might be simply what the doctor bought,” he said.
Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge Jonathan Larsen called Kanes charges “especially uncomfortable because when the deceptive activities were identified, she supposedly continued the activities utilizing additional concealment techniques.”
“While the large bulk of health care suppliers are operating in great faith to take care of patient requirements, it is the role of [the agency] and our police partners to haul into court the little portion of suppliers who are intentionally abusing the healthcare system for individual earnings,” he said.
Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration New York Regional Director Thomas Licetti said healthcare scams is “destructive to employees, employers and the whole health care system” and the firm is “proud to partner with its fellow federal firms in safeguarding hard-earned worker advantages.”