Attorney General Cuomo Announces Arrests Of Husband And Wife For Operating Queens Pharmacy Without A Licensed Pharmacist

NEW YORK, N.Y. (September 15, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrests of the husband and wife owners of a former Ozone Park, Queens, pharmacy that was dispensing medication without a licensed pharmacist and billed Medicaid $846,000 for medications that had never been purchased.

According to the complaint filed in Queens Criminal Court, Diwan Gulati, 65, and his wife, Urmil Arya Gulati, 62, of Glen Head, New York, operated Chotu Pharmacy at 74-17 101st Ave., Ozone Park, Queens, which closed in April 2010. Neither of the Gulati's is a licensed pharmacist, but they filled patient's prescriptions themselves for approximately five months.

"These defendants allegedly defrauded Medicaid and placed their customers in danger by dispensing prescriptions to the public without a properly trained and licensed pharmacist present," said Attorney General Cuomo. "My office will continue to fight this kind of fraud and work to protect the public from unscrupulous individuals who put personal gain over the safety of their customers."

The Gulati's arrest comes after an investigation and audit conducted by the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit which found that while the licensed pharmacist was on sick leave for an extended period, the business continued to operate without a replacement. During this time, Diwan Gulati was paid by Medicaid for the medications that he dispensed to Chotu Pharmacy patients while unsupervised by a licensed pharmacist.

The complaint also states that Attorney General auditors reviewed the medication inventory and purchasing records of Chotu Pharmacy and discovered that from January 2004 to January 2008, Chotu Pharmacy billed Medicaid $846,000 more than the amount of drugs it actually purchased from licensed drug wholesalers.

The Defendants, including Chotu Corporation, were charged today with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. The Defendants were also charged with Unauthorized Practice of a Profession and Offering a False Instrument for Filing, class E felonies, which carry maximum sentences of four years in prison.

Attorney General Cuomo thanked the New York State Department of Education, Office of Professional Discipline and the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General for their assistance in the investigation.

The charges against Diwan Gulati and Urmil Arya Gulati are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.

The investigation was handled by Deputy Regional Director Thomas O'Hanlon and Special Assistant Attorney General Emily Rowe Smith, with the assistance of Senior Special Investigator Arelis Restituyo, Supervising Special Auditor Investigator Thomasina Smith and Special Auditor Investigator John Balsamo.

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