EAST MEADOW, Long Island (PIX11) — A nursing home on Long Island was sued for the second time by New York Attorney General Letitia James, this time for alleged financial fraud and resident neglect, the attorney general’s office announced Tuesday.
Fulton Commons Care Center and its owners and operators are accused of being involved in a fraudulent scheme that led to low staffing levels, resident neglect, mistreatment and abuse, according to James’ office. The lawsuit claims the owners of Fulton Commons consistently disregarded laws intended to safeguard nursing home residents and took advantage of the state Medicaid program to fill their own pockets.
“Fulton Commons failed its residents and denied them the basic right of receiving comfortable, competent, and respectful care at the facility entrusted to serve them,” said James. “Rather than honor their legal duty to ensure the highest possible quality of life for the residents in their care, the Fulton Commons owners allegedly maintained insufficient staffing so they could take more money for their own personal gain. These actions led to a devastating pattern of resident abuse, neglect, and mistreatment…Anyone who has witnessed degrading conditions, neglect, or abuse at a nursing home or residential care facility is strongly encouraged to report it.”
After an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General, it was found that between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2021, Fulton Commons received $105.8 million from Medicare and Medicaid for resident care. However, the investigation found only $47.3 million went to its intended purpose, according to the attorney general’s office. The lawsuit said $34.4 million was used to pay inflated “rent” to Fulton Realty A, which far exceeded the real property expenses of Fulton Realty A.
Through this alleged plan of fake rent payments, the owners of Fulton Commons paid themselves $14.9 million without telling or obtaining permission from the Department of Health. Additionally, the attorney general’s office said, the principal owner authorized Fulton Commons to pay his eight adult children, who each owned 1 percent of Fulton Commons, bogus “salaries” for no-show jobs at the nursing home. As a result, Fulton Commons paid the owner’s children more than $1 million during the same period from 2018 to 2021, totaling more than $16 million taken from Medicaid and Medicare funding.
According to the attorney general’s office, with the 2020 salaries alone, the facility could have provided nearly 10,000 additional hours of direct care.
The lawsuit also alleges that Fulton Commons neglected to appropriately oversee and care for residents, leading to unanswered call bells and cries for help, unexplained bruises, open wounds and other injuries. It also claims Fulton Commons residents missed medical appointments and medication dosages and missed bathroom trips resulting in residents soiling themselves and sitting in unchanged underwear. Allegations of sexual abuse are also part of the lawsuit.
Additionally, the lawsuit claims Fulton Commons physically restrained residents by tying them to their wheelchairs and chemically by drugging them with psychotropic medications. Numerous additional care-related issues were also brought up by residents and their families, such as Fulton Commons’ alleged failure to manage nutritional needs or to offer basic oral and body hygiene. One woman said that she paid a private caregiver to sit with her father in his room at Fulton Commons overnight, according to the attorney general’s office. Some families said they turned to bribing employees to get care for their loved ones.
James announced in November the indictment of Daniel Persaud, a former licensed practical nurse at the facility for alleged sexual abuse, and Carol Frawley, a former director of nursing and the facility, for failing to report the alleged abuse.