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Queens Chronicle

Queens doc charged in $373K taxpayer fraud

State, federal and city money allegedly taken through nonprofit

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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 10:30 am

A doctor who runs a nonprofit medical practice at multiple sites throughout Queens was arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing approximately $373,000 obtained in the form of city, state and federal grants.

Dr. Dorothy Ogundu, who operates Angeldocs Inc., has been indicted on charges including second-degree grand larceny, second-degree forgery, first-degree falsifying business records and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, according to the office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman announced Ogundu’s arrest in a joint statement with state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the city Department of Investigation.

Schneiderman said Angeldocs received a total of 12 government grants.

The indictment alleges that Ogundu stole a portion of each by filing fraudulent requests for reimbursement and making false statements to the government agencies administering the grants.

Ogundu allegedly used the money she stole from the government grants to pay the mortgage and utilities on a commercial property she owned, make improvements to that property to increase its value, buy and ship vehicles to Nigeria and make other purchases for her personal benefit and for the benefit of her for-profit business.

“Dorothy Ogundu pocketed hundreds of thousands of city, state and federal taxpayer dollars intended to help those who need it most with their health care costs,” Schneiderman said.

“City, state and federal funds intended to serve New Yorkers in need should not be used to line the pockets of people running charities,” the attorney general added.

The thefts are alleged to go back six years.

A search on the internet by the Chronicle turned up one entry listing Ogundu as a family practitioner, general practitioner and an obstetrician/gynecologist. The search also turned up four sites where Ogundu is listed as practicing, in Flushing, Hollis, Astoria and St. Albans, all of which had the same phone number.

One message left on the voicemail at the number on Thursday afternoon was not returned. Subsequent calls reached a recording saying the number was not in service.

DiNapoli said information uncovered by the investigation “shows the breadth of her fraud and greed.

“This doctor prescribed a regimen of bogus claims and business records and hid behind the facade of a nonprofit to attract a stream of taxpayer dollars, according to the indictment,” Hearn of the DOI said on Thursday. “This investigation exposed the facts: She enriched herself rather than the community she purported to serve.”

Schneiderman said the indictment is rare in that his office is bringing charges in connection with the theft of federal grant money.

The United States departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development were said to be integral to the investigation.

“As HHS provides more grant funding than any other government agency, it has become increasingly apparent that the theft of federal grant funds is a serious problem that’s based on nothing more than greed,” said Thomas O’Donnell, special agent in charge of HHS’s New York regional Office of the Inspector General.

According to the indictment, Ogundu received two types of government grants for Angeldocs: program funds to support Angeldocs programs and capital grants to improve its facilities.

To obtain payment on the program grants Angeldocs received, Ogundu falsely claimed that she spent funds on various expenses, primarily rental space.

The indictment alleges that she diverted nearly all the program funds to pay the mortgage and utilities on a commercial building she owned through a holding company, instead of using it for the programs she promised to provide.

To obtain payment on the capital grants, Ogundu is alleged to have claimed she was building a state-of-the-art kitchen and making other capital improvements to a building that she falsely claimed was used by Angeldocs.

Instead, she allegedly received kickbacks on the project from a contractor and diverted other capital funds to pay the mortgage on her building and personal expenses.

Altogether, Ogundu allegedly stole approximately $91,000 from the city, approximately $87,000 from the state and approximately $195,000 from the United States. The maximum penalty for the top count is up to 15 years in prison.

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