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Niskayuna company, former surgeon charged in "multi-million dollar" scheme

Niskayuna company, former surgeon charged in "multi-million dollar" scheme

Inspector General: Business founder is disgraced former surgeon
Niskayuna company, former surgeon charged in "multi-million dollar" scheme
Google Maps street view of 2141 Eastern Parkway in Niskayuna.
Photographer: Google Maps

NISKAYUNA -- A local medical supply company and its founder are facing charges related to health care fraud, according to the state Inspector General's Office.

The charges accuse Steven A. St. Lucia, 62, of Valencia Road, and Union Foot Solutions LLC, also known as Union Orthotics and Pedorthics, which has operated out of offices on Eastern Parkway, of forging prescriptions and falsifying insurance claims for orthotics and compression stockings that were provided to government employees statewide, according to a press release from the inspector general.

The scheme resulted in a "multi-million dollar fraud" against the Empire Plan, which is the health insurance provider for state employees, according to Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

Both St. Lucia and the company have been charged with first-degree grand larceny, six counts of second-degree health care fraud, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degre scheme to defraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, all felonies, according to the Inspector General's Office.

"Defendant St. Lucia is a disgraced former surgeon who was once described as a danger to the community and morally bankrupt by the State medical licensing board and is now charged with perpetrating an elaborate health insurance fraud for his own personal greed,” Scott said in a prepared statement.

A phone number listed for Union Orthotics and Pedorthics was disconnected as of Friday, and St. Lucia could not be immediately reached for comment.

The charges allege that Union Foot Solutions set up promotional booths inside state facilities to offer employees free compression stockings and custom-fit orthotics at no out-of-pocket expense, according to the Inspector General's Office. 

The company then allegedly repeatedly used prescriptions with forged physician signatures to justify medical necessity in claims submitted to the Empire Plan for payment.

St. Lucia lost his license to practice medicine in early 2000, as he faced charges of gross incompetence, negligence and inappropriate sexual relations with three of his surgical patients, according to the release.

The New York State Department of Health’s Board of Professional Medical Conduct, at the time, found St. Lucia to be a “danger to the community,” and determined that, through his conduct, he “has shown himself to be morally bankrupt and wanting in fundamental clinical skills.” 

His application to have his license reinstated was denied in 2008.

After losing his license to practice medicine, St. Lucia was placed on the HHSOIG list of individuals and entities prohibited from billing Medicare and Medicaid or any other federal health care program, a fact he and his company concealed as they submitted bills to the Empire Plan.

St. Lucia was arraigned Friday in Niskayuna Town Court and was released after posting $1,000 cash bail. He is expected to return to court on Jan. 2.

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