Medicaid thief unloads on the I-Team on her way to prison

Posted at: 04/22/2013 4:31 PM
Updated at: 04/22/2013 5:41 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

A woman is going to prison for stealing thousands of taxpayer dollars.

 The New York State Attorney General's Office says Penny Thompson organized a kickback scheme with some of her in-home aides. She falsified their time sheets and they gave her money. On Monday, she was sentenced to prison. When she was on her way, she unloaded on I-Team 10 reporter Berkeley Brean.

 Penny Thompson is confined to a wheelchair and she needs care 24 hours a day. But I-Team 10 learned that, no matter what your condition is, if you steal from taxpayers and you already have some convictions, you're going to prison.

When Thompson was in court, she was apologetic, telling the judge she was sorry. Things changed when she came out.

Thompson said, “(Expletive) these news reporters. You know what, (expletive) you all. There are two sides to every story, two sides.”

Brean said, “What's your side then, Penny?”

Thompson said, “What's my side? CDR never called me back.”

Friend of Thompson said, “Don't talk, don't talk, Penny. Penny, don't talk.”

Thompson's lawyer says Thompson knows what she did was wrong.

Aaron Sperano, defense lawyer, said, “As the judge indicated, she does feel bad that the taxpayers bear the burden of this type of behavior and she understands that.”

As the I-Team 10 reported in February, Thompson was in a special Medicaid program that made her the administrator. She controlled everything from her aides to the money. The state says Thompson falsified her aides' time sheets and they paid her back part of the money they earned illegally.

Katherine Wagner, assistant attorney general, said, “I think the court said correctly when he indicated that the system, the integrity of the system, is ruined by people who steal from the government.”

The other thing I-Team 10 learned is that when these cases happen, you get your money back because one of the things Penny Thompson has to do is pay restitution, the $41,000 she stole from Medicaid.

Because of her disability, Penny Thompson will spend her prison sentence in a downstate hospital run by the Department of Corrections. Her sentence is a year and a half to three years.