FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Owner of Brooklyn Optical Stores and Medical Supplies Dealer
Charged with Stealing $3.4 Million in Loans
Purportedly Meant to Purchase Eye Care Equipment
Allegedly Stole Doctors’ Identities to Secure Financing; Spent Money on
Gambling, Luxury Cars, Designer Goods and High-End Condo
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that the owner of an optical store in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and the owner of a dealership that specializes in the sale of medical equipment have been variously charged in a 148-count indictment for allegedly stealing about $3.4 million from financial institutions that provided financing for purported purchases of medical equipment. The defendants allegedly submitted false information and fraudulent documents and, instead of buying eye care equipment, pocketed the funds, with the alleged leader of the scheme using them on lavish spending that included gambling in Atlantic City, shopping for his girlfriend at luxury stores and renting a condo in Battery Park City.
District Attorney Thompson said, “This long-running scheme allegedly took advantage of banks and leasing companies as well as of hard-working doctors whose identities were stolen so they could be listed as loan guarantors. We investigated this brazen scam, put an end to it and will now hold those responsible accountable.”
The District Attorney identified the two main defendants as Maksim Grinberg, 43, of 70 Little West Street in Manhattan, and Steven Schuster, 59, of 8 Loretta Court in Centereach, NY, as well as three corporations that they own. They are variously charged in a 148-count indictment that was unsealed today with fourth-degree conspiracy, first-degree money laundering, first-degree scheme to defraud, first- second- and third-degree grand larceny, first-degree identity theft and related counts. The defendants face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count with which they are charged. In addition, Grinberg’s estranged wife, Diana Gets, 39, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, was charged with conspiracy. Grinberg was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, who set bail at $1 million bond, and the two other defendants are expected to surrender tomorrow.
The District Attorney said that Grinberg and Gets owned DM Optical Inc. (also known as D & M Optical Inc.) and Grinberg also owns 9th Street Vision Center, both operating out of 332 9th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Schuster owns MKM-Medical Supplies, a dealership specializing in selling medical equipment, including instruments for eye care and eye care examinations.
It is alleged that between September 2010 and July 2015, the defendants conspired to defraud at least six financial institutions and medical equipment leasing companies, including Sterns Bank, Wells Fargo Equipment Finance and Ascentium Capital, by providing false information and fraudulent documents to secure financing for the purported purchases of medical equipment. But the equipment did not exit or was never purchased.
To secure the loans, the defendants submitted fraudulent documents, including applications, lease agreements and delivery acceptance forms as well as forged signatures of loan guarantors, according to the indictment. Without permission or consent, they allegedly used names and personal information of seven optometrists and ophthalmologists, who worked for them or applied to work with them, as loan guarantors. Personal information that was previously provided to the defendants, including the physicians’ dates of birth, social security numbers and driver’s license copies, was used in the applications. As guarantors, the doctors could have been exposed to debt and credit problems when the loans were not repaid.
To complete the paperwork, the defendants were required to submit invoices of the purportedly purchased items, including descriptions and serial numbers. It is alleged that they submitted false invoices from MKM that stated that the eye care stores bought equipment that did not exist or equipment that did exist, but had been purchased by other entities or did exist, but was bought under prior financial agreements. Based on the defendant’s representations, the Park Slope Vision Center was supposed to have approximately 150 units of medical equipment when, in reality, it had about four, the investigation found. In all, the defendants submitted false documents in at least 60 different transactions, stealing about $3.4 million in the course of the charged scheme.
The District Attorney said that Schuster would keep 4% of each transaction and Grinberg would pocket the rest, according to the investigation. Grinberg spent the money on gambling trips to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, on purchases at luxury good outlets, including Saks 5th Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, on rent for a high-end condo in Battery Park City that he shares with his girlfriend and on lease payments on Mercedes and Audi automobiles.
The District Attorney thanked the New York State Office of the Comptroller as well as the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution.
The case was investigated by Supervising Financial Investigator Kandi Conquest of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, Department Manager Agostino Bianco and Paralegal Edward Joyce of the District Attorney’s Healthcare Fraud Unit, Detective Investigator Ismael Zayas and Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Edwin Murphy, Assistant Chief Horace Norville and Chief Richard Belluci of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Sabrina Thanse and Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Gibson, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Healthcare Fraud Unit, under the supervision Felice Sontupe, Chief of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.