US Law News – Health Official Gets 87 Months Prison For Stealing From Program For Low Income Families – Legal Newswire

LawFuel – Legal News Daily – LEV L. DASSIN, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, today announced that CAROL PEIRCE, former Director of the federal Women, Infants, and Children
(“WIC”) Program at the New York and Presbyterian Hospital (“New
York-Presbyterian”), was sentenced today to 87 months in prison
on charges arising out of a scheme to defraud the WIC Program out
of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to the
sentence, United States District Judge RICHARD J. SULLIVAN
ordered PEIRCE to pay forfeiture of $100,000, and ordered
restitution to be decided at a later date. PEIRCE’s sentencing
comes after a Manhattan federal jury in February found her guilty
on all five charges against her after a two-week trial before
Judge SULLIVAN. According to the Indictment, evidence at trial,
and documents filed in the case:

The WIC Program is designed to provide nutritious foods
and nutritional counseling to low-income mothers, expectant
mothers, infants, and young children. Among other things, the
WIC Program provides participants with food vouchers for certain
specified nutritious foods, such as milk, infant formula, and
baby cereal. Mothers and expectant mothers also can participate
in periodic nutrition education programs such as the New York-
Presbyterian WIC’s “food demonstrations” where they learn such
things as how to prepare nutritious meals. PEIRCE was formerly
Director of the WIC Program at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital
in New York City from 1990 through August 2005; after that, she
became Nutrition Program Director for the Palm Beach County,
Florida, Health Department.

One way PEIRCE defrauded the WIC Program was by using
her WIC Program credit card to purchase tens of thousands of
dollars’ of items and services for her personal benefit. PEIRCE
purchased many of the items in the vicinity of her new second
home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. These purchases included airfare
from New York to Florida; car rentals; home improvement and
building supplies; home decorations including a stained glass
ceiling lamp, a bordeaux bench, and a wall sculpture; kitchenware
including an ice cream maker, silver plates, a hostess set, and a
Fortunoff tea kettle; and various electronics including a Sony
Camcorder. PEIRCE had the WIC Program to pay her credit card
bills by submitting false expense reports identifying the
expenses as legitimate Program expenses.

PEIRCE also defrauded the Program by entering into a
secret kickback agreement with ProGlow, a cleaning company she
hired to clean the New York-Presbyterian WIC Program offices.
ProGlow was owned and operated by PEIRCE’s secretary, MIRIAM
COLGAN, a fact PEIRCE did not disclose. In exchange for hiring
ProGlow, COLGAN had the company send an employee to clean
PEIRCE’s home in Teaneck, New Jersey, approximately two times per
week. The woman who cleaned PEIRCE’s home did so for over three
years, and was paid approximately $85 per day in WIC program
money for her services. ProGlow inflated the costs of its
cleaning services by tens of thousands of dollars each year to
cover for this, ultimately billing the New York-Presbyterian WIC
Program over $311,000 in connection with this part of the scheme.
PEIRCE and COLGAN also embezzled approximately $15,275
by having the WIC Program pay a number of fraudulent invoices
submitted on behalf of a Queens bodega known as “Mejia Grocery”
and “Joance Mini Market” (referred to herein as “Meija Grocery”).

PEIRCE directed COLGAN to falsely bill the New York-Presbyterian
WIC Program for food and services that Mejia Grocery purportedly
had provided for “food demonstrations” for WIC Program
participants. In fact, Mejia Grocery had not provided any of the
food or services listed on the invoices. Instead, after the New
York-Presbyterian WIC Program had paid thousands of dollars to
Mejia Grocery based on the phony invoices, COLGAN arranged with
the owner of Mejia Grocery to have the fraudulently obtained
money paid back to her.

PEIRCE also defrauded the WIC Program by submitting
time sheets that falsely stated that she was working at the New
York-Presbyterian WIC Program during a two-month period in August
and September 2005, when she in fact already had left that job
and moved to Florida, where she was working as the Nutrition
Program Director for the Palm Beach County, Florida, Health
Department.

PEIRCE was found guilty of one count of conspiracy; two
counts of mail fraud; and two counts of theft from a federally-
funded program. The mail fraud counts stem from the scheme
involving the payment of personal credit card charges, and the
kickback scheme involving ProGlow. The theft charges stem from,
respectively, the Mejia grocery and time sheet schemes, discussed
above.

At the sentencing Judge SULLIVAN found, among other
things, that PEIRCE had obstructed justice when she testified
falsely during her trial. Judge SULLIVAN further remarked that
PEIRCE’s crime, which involved stealing from a program designed
to help the neediest persons in society, is “more than wrong–
it’s despicable.”

PEIRCE, 53, resides in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

COLGAN, of Newark, New Jersey, previously pleaded
guilty before United States District Judge LORETTA A. PRESKA to
one count of conspiracy; one count of theft from a program
receiving federal funds (pertaining to the Mejia Grocery scheme)
and one count of mail fraud (pertaining to the ProGlow scheme).
Mr. DASSIN thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the State of New
York Department of Health Investigative Services Unit for their
assistance in this investigation. Mr. DASSIN also thanked New
York-Presbyterian Hospital for its cooperation in the
investigation. Mr. DASSIN stated:

“The federal WIC program is designed to assist some of
the most vulnerable people in our community in times of great
need. We will vigorously prosecute anyone who steals from such
programs to satisfy their own greed.”
This prosecution is being handled by the Major Crimes
Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office. Assistant United
States Attorneys MARCUS A. ASNER and MARIA E. DOUVAS are in
charge of the prosecution.
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