ELIZABETHTOWN | At least eight people connected with area taxi cab companies have been arrested and arraigned on charges related to what authorities allege is a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy to defraud Medicaid.
Eight suspects, all Pakistani nationals, appeared at the Essex County Courthouse on Tuesday and were charged with numerous felonies following raids of at least three convenience stores in Ticonderoga earlier that morning.
Those arraigned include Mayam Qaiser, Saleem Hayat, Muhammad Jahangir, Khurram Gondal, Sanuallah Chadder, Kalid Chadder, Waqas Nauman and Qaiser Gondal.
The eight were partially arraigned on numerous felony charges Tuesday, and court proceedings will continue on Wednesday.
The investigation was coordinated by the New York State Police and the Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from numerous local and federal agencies.
The Sun has spent years exclusively reporting on allegations of criminal and financial malfeasance surrounding the medical transportation industry.
The roundup marks the first arrests in Essex County directly tied to the burgeoning industry which has blossomed in recent years due to state reforms that have shuttled Medicaid patients from county-run transport into private cabs as a cost-savings measure.
The business is largely unregulated, including in Essex County, where county officials have long fielded public safety complaints and other allegations of nefarious behavior.
Detailed charges were only available for Saleem Hayat, owner of Moriah Cab Service in Port Henry.
According to court documents read by Hon. Essex County Judge Richard Meyer, Hayat “knowingly stole $50,000” when he allegedly falsified provider payments to the state Department of Health (DOH) between July 2015 and May 2017 for Medicaid taxi services.
Hayat, who also serves as the manager of Port Henry Mobil Mart, was charged with one count of second degree grand larceny, a class C felony; one count of maintaining false business records, a class E felony, and one count of falsifying business records, a class E felony.
“We’re looking at $780,000 alleged to be owed,” said Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague.
Hayat was also charged with failing to provide workers’ compensation, a class E felony.
Hayat was remanded to the Essex County Public Safety Building on $250,000 bail, and will appear in court on Wednesday.
Like his co-defendants, Hayat was ordered to surrender travel documents because multiple trips to Pakistan have indicated he may present a flight risk, said Sprague.
Details slowly emerged during court proceedings on Tuesday, but Sprague offered the initial outlines of a sprawling conspiracy.
Muhammad Jahangir of Queensbury was charged with two counts of grand larceny and one count of failing to secure workers’ compensation.
But the district attorney said Jahangir was “financially connected” to at least three other regional cab companies — Four-Way, Capital Cab and Green Mountain — as well as a co-defendant, Khurram Gondal, who was also charged with multiple felonies, including one count of first degree grand larceny, four counts of second degree grand larceny, one count of third degree grand larceny, six counts of falsifying business records, and one count of failing to provide workers’ compensation.
Gondal is also connected with Four-Way, Capital Cab and Green Mountain, as well as All NY Taxi & Limo.
Bail was set at $2 million cash.
Sanuallah Chadder of Ticonderoga was charged one count of first degree grand larceny, one count of second degree grand larcency and two counts offering a false instrument, first degree.
He was also charged with three counts of falsifying business records and one count of failing to provide workers’ compensation, a class E felony.
Chadder, who is connected with Adirondack Taxi and Chadder Imports, is alleged to have defrauded Medicaid out of $2.4 million, Sprague said in court.
Chadder was remanded on $2 million cash bond.
Mayam Qaiser faces charges, but details weren’t immediately available, as she asked for a interpreter.
She’s married to Qaiser Gondal, owner of the Ti Citgo, which was raided earlier that morning.
Khalid Chadder, 48, of Ticonderoga, who was also arraigned, is the manager of Ti Mobil Mart.
Qaiser hadn’t been arraigned by the time The Sun left the courtroom shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
“We’re just scratching the surface of this investigation,” Sprague said.
State police and Ticonderoga Town Police were at three convenience stories on Tuesday, two on Montcalm Street and one on Wicker Street owned by a Pakistani family, as well as at a house owned by the family on The Portage near Alexandria Avenue.
The three convenience stores raided were: Ti Citgo, 69 Montcalm St.; Ti Mobil Mart/Sharkey’s II, 1066/1068 Wicker St. and Ti Gulf/Sharkey’s I at 66 Montcalm St.
Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests may be expected.
The Essex County District Attorney’s Office declined formal comment.
“Stay tuned,” Sprague said.
More with video here Medical cab company owners arrested in corruption investigation.
A dozen medical cab company owners around Queensbury and Ticonderoga have been arrested. New York’s inspector general says for years, the Northway corridor has been plagued with corruption in this type of business.
Muhammad Jahangir, 23, and Waqas Nauman, 36, from Queensbury were among those arrested.
In general, Medicaid can cover the cost of getting people to and from a medical appointment. The U.S. attorney’s office says these medical transport companies used elaborate schemes involving false billing and paying kickbacks to Medicaid recipients.
State police investigated this for two years.