Longshoreman Pleads Guilty to Criminal Sale of Oxycodone, Insurance Fraud and Conspiracy
October 29, 2014
Today, longshoreman Nicholas Tornabene pleaded guilty to one count of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree in violation of New York State Penal Law section 220.39, one count in Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, in violation of New York Penal Law section 176.20, and one count of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree in violation of New York Penal Law section 105.05-1, in front of Justice Leonard Rienzi in Richmond County Supreme Court. Tornabene 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 the Waterfront Commission into illegal gambling, insurance fraud, and oxycodone distribution on the docks and elsewhere.
Tornabene 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 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 of 3-5 minutes. Insurance companies would then be billed for procedures that took 25, 40, or 60 minutes. In addition, Tornabene pled guilty to the criminal sale of oxycodone.
Tornabene has been suspended by the Commission since the date of his arrest. As a condition of his plea, Tornabene has agreed to the surrender of his registration of a longshoreman with prejudice.
Tornabene’s brother, Charles Tornabene, also pled guilty today before Judge Rienzi to Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree and Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree. These pleas related to his participation in the criminal enterprise. Charles Tornabene’s ILA sponsored request for prequalification as a longshoreman was rejected by the Commission following his indictment and arrest in this matter.