Two employees of a Boston home health care agency have been accused of defrauding the Massachusetts Medicaid program, the latest targets of a crackdown on what state officials say is widespread fraudulent billing within the industry.
Elena Kurbatzky, 44, the owner of Harmony Home Health Care LLC and her employee, Natan Zalyapin, 43, both pleaded not guilty in Suffolk Superior Court to multiple counts of larceny and false claims to the state Medicaid program. Zalyapin was released on personal recognizance, but Kurbatzky was transferred later Tuesday to Boston Municipal Court because of an outstanding warrant.
Neither Kurbatzky nor Zalyapin could be reached for comment. The company itself was also charged and will be arraigned later this summer.
The charges follow an audit by the state’s MassHealth program last year that determined nine home care companies had defrauded the state of almost $23 million. In September, the state brought charges against three executives of Worcester-based Compassionate Homecare Inc. for allegedly defrauding MassHealth of more than $800,000. MassHealth officials had cut funding to the company because of questionable billing, prompting Compassionate Homecare to sue the state in January 2016.
At the time the state audit was released, state officials did not name Harmony as one of the companies under scrutiny.
Prosecutors said Kurbatzky and Zalyapin, both registered nurses, billed the state for $2.7 million in care between February 2015 and October 2016 that Harmony did not provide to its 38 clients.
Harmony allegedly billed MassHealth for nurses who officials said were providing care in different locations at the same time, and prosecutors said the company also billed MassHealth for services not authorized by a doctor and submitted forged signatures to make it appear as if they were.
Officials said Kurbatzky and Zalyapin provided the majority of Harmony’s services directly to clients.
Kurbatzky was arrested Monday night in Logan Airport and Zalyapin at his home in Burlington, according to a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts attorney general. Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Goldstein said during their arraignment Tuesday that the suspects were arrested to ensure they would appear in court. Goldstein said both traveled frequently out of the state and country during times they had claimed to be providing services to clients.
In addition to surrendering their passports and submitting to GPS tracking, Kurbatzky and Zalyapin were ordered not to have contact with any witnesses and not work as MassHealth providers.