Pair of N.Y. Psychotherapists Examining Jail Time, Probation for Scam

March 14, 2006

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and State Insurance Superintendent Howard Mills reported that two psychotherapists pleaded guilty last week in Brooklyn to submitting fraudulent bills to insurance carriers.

The defendants, Gabriel Feldmar, of Bayside and Brian McCarthy, of Massapequa, reportedly provided medically unnecessary counseling to motor vehicle accident victims and then billed no-fault carriers for the unnecessary treatment and for counseling sessions which never took place or lasted no more than a few minutes.

Pursuant to a negotiated plea, Feldmar, a licensed psychologist, is expected to be sentenced later this year to one year in jail and a fine of $300,000. McCarthy, a psychotherapist employed by Feldmar, is expected to be sentenced later this year to five years probation and pay a fine to be determined.

Among the charges defendant Feldmar pleaded guilty to were conspiracy, insurance fraud, falsifying business records, grand larceny and attempted grand larceny. McCarthy pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny. The pleas were entered March 10 before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Walsh.

Feldmar supervised McCarthy and other psychotherapists at no-fault clinics throughout New York City and Long Island. At the clinics, motor vehicle accident victims were reportedly directed to meet with a psychotherapist employed by Feldmar, regardless of medical necessity.

The psychotherapists met with patients for no more than 15 minutes and frequently for no longer than a few minutes. The defendants then reportedly submitted bills under no-fault claiming that the face-to-face counseling sessions lasted had 45 to 50 minutes. They also billed insurance carriers for treatment sessions which never took place at all and falsely claimed to have provided patients with a stress-reduction therapy known as “biofeedback.”

Under New York’s no-fault law, a person injured in a motor vehicle accident can receive up to $50,000 coverage for medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident.

Most health providers, including psychotherapists, are reimbursed directly by the insurance carriers for services provided.

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