NEW YORK -- A Long Island dentist who treated more than 40 Port Authority police officers stands accused of cheating insurance companies out of millions -- and now officials are investigating whether any of the officers were in on the alleged scheme. Investigators said more than 40 officers and numerous other Port Authority workers visited the dentist office on the 2nd floor of a building along West Park Avenue in Long Branch.
Indictment (pdf) Dr. Barry Cohan allegedly tried to steal nearly $2 million, and allegedly got $700,000, from the Port Authority Health Fund. He was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly submitting false claims to MetLife and the Port Authority
fund. Officials said the scheme worked like this: Cohan did a routine cleaning, but instead allegedly submitted the bill to insurance as an expensive surgery.
Authorities are now looking into the possibility that the officers knowingly signed off on the alleged fraud, receiving TVs, free cosmetic surgeries, or cash payoffs for their cooperation in the alleged false billing scheme. No officers have been charged, but numerous agencies are now investigating. As for the doctor, he did not comment. State records show in 1998 he was fined and his license suspended in a separate alleged overbilling scheme. The medical records of dozens of officers have been seized as part of the ongoing investigation.
A spokesman with MetLife Insurance, which helps administer the fund, said their office is helping federal prosecutors in the investigation. One law enforcement source said officials hope to build criminal cases against some of the patients. But one federal official said most, if not all of the officers, will likely face departmental charges. A Port Authority spokesman said, "The agency would take the strongest action possible, including suspensions or firings, if any wrongdoing is found among employees. That would include recovering any lost agency funds." A spokesman for US Attorney Benton Campbell declined to comment on the investigation as did a spokesman from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.