Longshoreman Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud and Two Counts of Conspiracy
May 14, 2014
Today, longshoreman Christopher Galasso pleaded guilty to one count of Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, in violation of New York State Penal Law section 176.20, and two counts of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, in violation of New York State Penal Law section 105.05-1, in front of Justice Leonard Rienzi in Richmond County Supreme Court. Galasso was previously indicted by a Richmond County Grand Jury, and arrested on December 17, 2013, as part of “Operation Shore Thing”. “Operation Shore Thing” was a joint investigation by the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office, New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigation Division, and Waterfront Commission into illegal gambling, insurance fraud, and oxycodone distribution on the docks and elsewhere.
Galasso admitted to being part of a conspiracy with other longshoremen to obtain oxycodone prescriptions in exchange for helping pain management physician Dr. Mihir Bhatt, and chiropractor Dr. Thomas Dinardo, get paid tens of thousands of dollars by the Management-International Longshoreman Association Healthcare Trust Fund (“MILA”) for medical services that were never provided. The longshoremen’s’ participation in the criminal enterprise allowed them to obtain oxycodone without examinations and, often, without even going to the doctors’ offices. They then used and/or distributed the oxycodone.
Dinardo would bring the indicted longshoremen into his offices, and then he and Bhatt would direct them to make return office visits, ostensibly for further tests or treatments to support a long term, fraudulent insurance billing scheme and the dispensing of oxycodone prescriptions. These procedures, if done at all, were not conducted properly, and were conducted to provide the appearances needed to justify further billable office visits, dispensing prescriptions for oxycodone, and lengthy disability claims. Participating patients would call to get prescriptions for oxycodone and would receive them in return for billable office visits that did not occur, or which were perfunctory and lasted only an average 3-5 minutes. Insurance companies would then be billed for procedures that took 25, 40, or 60 minutes.
In addition, Galasso conspired with indicted longshoremen Steven Alcaras, Bhatt, and Dinardo, to file false instruments with the Waterfront Commission. Alcaras helped Galasso obtain notes from Bhatt and Dinardo stating that Galasso was unable to work due to injuries for which he was under their care. In reality, Galasso had no such injuries and obtained the notes in order to avoid losing his registration as a longshoreman for failing to meet his work requirements.
Galasso has been suspended by the Commission since the date of his arrest. As a condition of his plea, Galasso has agreed to the surrender of his registration as a longshoreman with prejudice. He will be sentenced on September 5, 2014.