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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

New York State pays drug treatment center nearly $4 million for ineligible expenses


New York State pays drug treatment center nearly $4 million for ineligible expenses
Source: Office of the State Comptroller

A national drug and alcohol treatment provider was able to collect $3.9 million in ineligible payments due to the processing of invalid claims and inadequate oversight by the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), according to an audit released on January 13, 2019 by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

"Phoenix House is contracted to provide services to New Yorkers who are trying to overcome substance abuse problems, but it requested and received funding it was not entitled to,” said DiNapoli. “Our audit revealed that millions of dollars were claimed and spent on ineligible costs. Officials from the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services must recoup this money, which should have been used for cost-effective addiction services to New Yorkers.”

OASAS, which oversees one of the nation’s largest programs for the prevention and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse, signed a five-year $47.6 million contract with Phoenix House New York (PHNY) in 2009 to provide outpatient, inpatient, and residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment services at several facilities in the New York metropolitan area. The state’s contract with PHNY was renewed in 2014 for another five-year term (July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2019) at a total cost of $51.4 million.

Auditors examined a three-year period ending June 30, 2016 and determined that PHNY received reimbursement for expenses that did not comply with the contract. This included approximately $2.9 million in unallowable or unsupported parent organization administrative expenses.

For example, PHNY's parent organization periodically allocates its administrative costs to its affiliates throughout the country. When an affiliate in one state did not have the revenue to fund their share of these costs, the parent organization reallocated a portion to PHNY and New York was billed for the other state's share. All told, New York was billed $850,000 for these costs.

In addition, PHNY received reimbursement from OASAS for expenses deemed to be ineligible under the contract. This included:

● Equipment and property depreciation of about $700,000;

● Unsupported employee salaries and raises totaling about $500,000;

● Fundraising costs of about $400,000;

● More than $200,000 paid to the foundation's public policy office and outside lobbyists; and

● Entertainment and party expenses of about $12,700.

DiNapoli recommended OASAS take steps to recoup the $3.9 million from PHNY and take steps to establish better monitoring to ensure that only properly supported claims that are for contractually-approved expenses are approved.

The response from OASAS officials, who requested the audit by OSC, is included in the final report. The audit can be found on the Internet at:


Monday, January 14, 2019

Paid Family Leave webinar specifically for public employers


Paid Family Leave webinar specifically for public employers
Source: New York State Workers' Compensation Board

Learn about the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive paid family leave and how public employers can opt in at a special Paid Family Leave webinar specifically for public employers.

This one-hour, online session will provide you with an overview of the state’s landmark Paid Family Leave benefit, and the easy process for opting in.

Paid Family Leave is employee-paid insurance that provides employees with job-protected, paid time off from work to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or assist when a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent is deployed abroad on active military service. Under the New York Paid Family Leave law, it is easy for public employers to opt in to provide access to these benefits for your employees. Those with union-represented employees may provide Paid Family Leave if it is agreed to through collective bargaining.

Register 
The one-hour sessions are free and will include time for questions and answers. Dates and times are below. Register for a session here:  http://bit.ly/pflwebinar.

Thursday, January 17, 2019, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 24, 2019, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 31, 2019, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 7, 2019, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 14, 2019, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 21, 2019, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Additional Paid Family Leave resources are available

In addition to the webinars, New York State offers complete details and resources on Paid Family Leave at PaidFamilyLeave.ny.gov, including a special page for public employers. Help is also available via a toll-free Paid Family Leave Helpline at 844-337-6303

Accidental disability retirement benefits are available to an applicant if the precipitating event is not a risk of the work ordinarily performed by the applicant


Accidental disability retirement benefits are available to an applicant if the precipitating event is not a risk of the work ordinarily performed by the applicant
Larivey v DiNapoli, 2019 NY Slip Op 00018, Appellate Division, Third Department

Becky C. Larivey, a bus attendant for a school district, applied for accidental disability retirement benefits after suffering a fall in the course of her being assigned to washing school buses. Her application was initially denied by the New York State Employees' Retirement System, but was subsequently granted by a Hearing Officer following a hearing. The State Comptroller overruled the Hearing Officer's decision and denied the application, deciding that the incident precipitating Larivey's fall and injury did not constitute an accident within the meaning of the Retirement and Social Security Law [RSSL]. Larivey appealed the Comptroller's determination.

The Appellate Division said that it is well settled that, for purposes of the Retirement and Social Security Law, an accident is "a 'sudden, fortuitous mischance, unexpected, out of the ordinary, and injurious in impact,'" citing Matter of Kenny v DiNapoli, 11 NY3d 873 and that the Court of Appeals had recently explained "the precipitating event must not be a risk of the work ordinarily performed."

In addition, observed the court, it is the petitioner who bears the burden of demonstrating the existence of an accident, and the Comptroller's determination in this regard will be upheld if is supported by substantial evidence.

The record in Larivey's case revealed that she had never been directed to wash buses as part of her duties as a bus attendant nor did her "job description" indicated that cleaning or maintaining buses were duties that could be assigned to her to perform.* Indeed, notes the court's decision, Larivey's "regular duties involved assisting disabled children getting on and off the bus and ensuring their safety while riding the bus."  The Appellate Division's decision also noted that except for the date of which Larivey suffered her injury she had never been to the parking lot where the buses were kept.

The Appellate Division found that "[u]nder the circumstances presented, the incident was clearly sudden, unexpected and not a risk of [Larivery's] ordinary job duties." Accordingly the court found that Larivey met her burden of establishing that it was an accident within the meaning of the RSSL and that the Comptroller's contrary determination was not supported by substantial evidence.

Granting Larivey's petition, the Appellate Division remanded the matter to the Comptroller "for further proceedings not inconsistent with this Court's decision."

* See Matter of McCambridge v McGuire, 62 NY2d 563. An applicant is entitled to accidental disability retirement benefits when the injury involved "a precipitating accidental event which was not a risk of the work performed."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
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Click here to Read a FREE excerpt from Disability Benefits for fire, police and other public sector personnel employed by the State and political subdivisions of the State of New York.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the following audits were issued


On January 10, 2019 New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced the following audits were issued
Source: Office of the State Comptroller

Links to material posted on the Internet highlighted in COLOR

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS): Oversight of Sex Offenders Subject to Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment (Follow-Up) (2018-F-21)
The Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act requires that Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment (SIST) parole officers to have a minimum number of monthly contacts with paroled offenders. An initial audit identified weaknesses in officers meeting these requirements and significant differences in compliance among the locations tested. Auditors also found that officers didn’t adequately document their responses to electronic monitoring alerts. In a follow-up, auditors found DOCCS has made significant progress and implemented all of the recommendations.

Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY): Monitoring of Prevailing Wage Compliance on Construction Contracts (Follow-Up) (2018-F-30)
An initial audit found DASNY generally monitored contractors and sub-contractors on its projects to ensure they paid employees at the prevailing wage rate, but auditors found some shortcomings. In a follow-up, auditors found DASNY has made some progress. Of the two prior audit recommendations, one was implemented and one was partially implemented.

Office of General Services (OGS): Food Metrics Implementation (Follow-Up) (2018-F-23)
State law requires OGS and the Department of Agriculture and Markets to develop regulations, establish guidelines, and provide training on New York state food purchasing to agency personnel involved in the acquisition process. OGS is also responsible for tracking data on state agencies’ food purchases and for providing a Food Metrics Annual Report each year detailing these purchases. An initial audit report found that the two Food Metrics Annual Reports completed by the time of the initial audit fell short of providing complete and reliable information regarding the state’s efforts to support its farm and agricultural businesses. In a follow-up, auditors found OGS has made significant progress in correcting the problems.


Department of Health (DOH): Administrative Costs Used in Premium Rate Setting (Follow-Up) (2018-F-10)
An initial audit found DOH overpaid managed care organizations more than $18.9 million in mainstream Medicaid managed care premiums for the state fiscal year 2014-15 due to a flaw in the DOH’s rate-setting methodology. In a follow-up, auditors found DOH made some progress addressing the problems identified in the initial audit report but additional actions are needed.


Department of Health (DOH): Improper Medicaid Payments to Eye Care Providers (Follow-Up) (2018-F-28)
The initial audit report identified vulnerabilities in the DOH’s provider enrollment and revalidating processes that undermine DOH’s ability to ensure that only qualified providers participate in the Medicaid program and prevent improper payments for services rendered by providers who do not meet federal and state requirements. In a follow-up, auditors found DOH has made progress addressing the problems identified in the initial audit.


Department of Health (DOH): Medicaid Payments for Pharmacy Claims – Joia Pharmacy and a Related Prescriber (Follow-Up) (2018-F-26)
From Jan. 1, 2008 through Dec. 31, 2012, DOH paid Joia more than $7.7 million for 50,060 claims on behalf of 706 Medicaid recipients. One particular doctor was listed as the prescriber on 31,351 (63 percent) of the 50,060 claims. Auditors found that, based on a statistical projection of the audit sample results, DOH made improper payments totaling approximately $1.5 million to Joia for pharmacy claims. In a follow-up, auditors determined DOH made progress in addressing the issues. Of the report’s four audit recommendations, three were implemented and one was partially implemented.


State Education Department: Headstart of Rockland Inc. (HSOR): Compliance with the Reimbursable Cost Manual (2018-S-25)
HSOR is a not- for-profit special education provider located in
Rockland County. It provides preschool special education services to children with disabilities who are between three and five years of age. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015, auditors identified $7,958 in ineligible costs that HSOR reported for reimbursement. .

State Education Department: Developmental Disabilities Institute Inc. (DDI): Compliance with the Reimbursable Cost Manual (2018-S-3)
DDI is a Suffolk County-based not-for-profit organization approved by SED to provide preschool special education services to children with disabilities who are between the ages of three and five years. For the three years ended
Dec. 31, 2015, auditors identified $138,718 in reported costs that did not comply with state requirements

State Education Department (SED): Leake and Watts Services Inc.: Compliance with the Reimbursable Cost Manual (2017-S-73)
Leake and
Watts (now known as Rising Ground) is a not-for-profit special education provider located in Westchester County. Leake and Watts provides preschool special education services to children with learning disabilities who are between three and five years of age. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015, auditors identified $228,071 in ineligible costs that Leake and Watts reported for state reimbursement.

State Education Department: Pinnacle Organization: Compliance with the Reimbursable Cost Manual (2018-S-6)
Pinnacle is a not-for-profit special education provider located in
Oswego County. It provides preschool special education services to children with disabilities who are between three and five years of age. For the three fiscal years ended June 30, 2015, auditors identified $103,220 in ineligible costs that Pinnacle reported for state reimbursement.

Department of State: Monitoring of Not-for-Profit Cemeteries for Fiscal Stability and Adequate Facility Maintenance (Follow Up) (2018-F-22)
An initial audit report found numerous issues with the agency’s monitoring. For example: as of
Sept. 30, 2016, records indicate 642 cemeteries (37 percent) had overdue audits and 285 (16 percent) had delinquent annual reports. For 145 cemeteries (8 percent), audits were overdue and annual reports were delinquent as well. As of Dec. 1, 2016, 391 cemeteries (22 percent) had not been inspected in over seven years. In a follow-up, auditors found some progress has been made to the problems identified in the initial audit. Of the four prior report recommendations, two were implemented and two were partially implemented.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Internet online anonymity didn't shield lawyer from ethical obligations


Internet online anonymity didn't shield lawyer from ethical obligations

Rochester, New York attorney Nicole Black has posted an item on her LawBlog Sui Generus summarizing a decision by the Supreme Court of Louisiana, In re: Salvadore R. Perricone, No. 2018-B-1233, in which the court considered whether Perricone violated his ethical obligations as an attorney as a result of anonymous comments that he posted online between 2007-2014. Some of the comments related to trials for which he was the prosecuting attorney and others related to trials that his colleagues were prosecuting. The court concluded that the appropriate sanction for Perricone’s conduct was disbarment.

The Internet link to Ms. Black's article is:

Former Savona Mayor arraigned on charges related to defrauding the Village


Former Savona Mayor arraigned on charges related to defrauding the Village
Source: Office of the State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli

Former Savona Mayor Gregge Harrian was arraigned in Steuben County Court today on felony charges of five counts of offering a false instrument for filing and five counts of misdemeanor falsifying business records. As Mayor, Harrian allegedly submitted fraudulent vouchers and falsified records to trick the village into paying his personal expenses. 

“Mr. Harrian allegedly abused his authority to deceive the residents he was supposed to serve,” State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said, “I thank District Attorney Brooks Baker and Sheriff James Allard for bringing Mr. Harrian to justice and for our continued partnership to fight public corruption.”

Harrian, 52, resigned his position and left the state after allegedly submitting dozens of unsupported, false, inaccurate or unfounded mileage and purchase claims, according to the audit and investigation. A second unnamed defendant was indicted for facilitating the alleged crimes. 

The indictment was the result of a joint investigation by Comptroller DiNapoli, Steuben County District Attorney Baker and Steuben County Sheriff Allard.

An earlier State Comptroller’s audit found that Harrian also appointed his wife as clerk-treasurer under his supervision, in violation of the village employee handbook, and approved her unsubstantiated claims of off-hours work for $21,000 in extra pay.

Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has committed to fighting public corruption and encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at investigations@osc.state.ny.us, or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Investigations, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236. Review prior cases at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/investigations/index.htm


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