New York State Criminal Cases – Friday, August 27, 2021

Last edited on Friday, August 27, 2021, at 11:42 AM.

Welcome to The Blanch Law Firm’s weekly digest of New New York Criminal Cases. Our goal is to keep the public informed as to recent events in federal courts around the country. 

As always, unless otherwise disclosed, none of the defendants mentioned in these summaries are clients of our firm.

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Friday, August 27, 2021

I. NY Attorneys, Doctor Charged with Defrauding Businesses, Insurance Companies Of $31 Million-Plus Through Trip-And-Fall Fraud Scheme

On August 25, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging George Constantine, Marc Elefant, Andrew Dowd, and Saady Ribeiro with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to obtain fraudulent insurance reimbursements and other compensation for fraudulent trip-and-fall accidents.  

Elefant, Dowd, and Ribeiro were arrested earlier that morning and were presented the same day before U.S. Magistrate Kevin Nathaniel Fox in Manhattan federal court.  Constantine is expected to surrender and be presented in Manhattan federal court tomorrow.  The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Loretta A. Preska.

As alleged in the Indictment unsealed Aug. 25 in Manhattan federal court, from in or about January 2013, up to and including in or about April 2018, the defendants engaged in an extensive fraud scheme through which the defendants defrauded businesses and insurance companies by staging trip-and-fall accidents and filing fraudulent lawsuits arising from those.  In or about 2015, certain members of the fraud scheme split from the original conspiracy and formed a separate conspiracy that operated in substantially the same manner.  

George Constantine was the primary attorney who filed fraudulent lawsuits in the original conspiracy starting in 2013.  Marc Elefant was the primary attorney who filed fraudulent lawsuits in the separate conspiracy, formed in or about 2015.


II. Brooklyn Business Owner Charged with Bank Fraud, Identity Theft, Witness Tampering

A complaint was unsealed August 24, 2021, in Brooklyn federal court, charging David Motovich, principal of a lumber and construction materials business, with bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and witness tampering.  Motovich was arrested Aug, 24, which is when he made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann. The arrest and the charges were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, along with Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office (FBI), and Thomas Fattorusso, Acting IRS Special Agent-in-Charge. 

As alleged in the complaint, since at least 2012, Motovich has operated an illegal check cashing business from his office at his family-run lumber business located in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.  The customers of Motovich’s illegal check cashing business are primarily the owners and operators of construction companies who pay their employees in cash to avoid having to pay state and federal employment taxes, including taxes owed under the Federal Income Contributions Act.  

As part of the scheme, Motovich cashed millions of dollars of checks for his customers in exchange for a fee or a percentage of the face amount of the checks, ranging between four and 10 percent.


III. Queens Woman Pleads Guilty to Distributing Narcotics That Caused Fatal Overdoses

Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Angelina Barini pleaded guilty before U.S.  Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr. to distributing narcotics and causing the deaths of two victims.  More specifically, she pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing narcotics that caused the deaths of a person, and one count of distributing fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine; and one count of conspiring to distribute gamma-butyrolactone (GBL).  When she is sentenced, Barini faces at least 20 years’ and up to life in prison. The guilty plea was announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Jacquelyn M. Kasulis. 

As set forth in court filings and the Aug. 26 proceeding, between July and August of 2019, Barini provided narcotics to her victims while sometimes conducting business as a sex worker.  On multiple occasions, those narcotics contained lethal doses of fentanyl.  On July 11, 2019, Barini met with a victim at a motel in Woodside, Queens and gave him fentanyl-laced drugs, causing his overdose death.  

On August 5, 2019, Barini met another victim at a residence in College Point, Queens and gave him fentanyl-laced drugs which caused his overdose death.  On July 4, 2019, Barini distributed and possessed with intent to distribute controlled substances containing fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Additionally, between August 16, 2019, and August 18, 2019, Barini conspired with another person to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a substance containing GBL, a Schedule I controlled substance analogue, commonly referred to as a “date rape” drug.


IV. Long Island Dentist Arrested for Distributing Prescription Drugs to Women in Exchange for Sex

On August 26, 2021, an indictment was unsealed in Central Islip federal court charging Dr.  Barry Arnold, a practicing dentist with an office in Valley Stream, New York, with writing illegal prescriptions to women for oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, and alprazolam (“Xanax”), a Schedule IV controlled substance, in exchange for sex acts.  Arnold was arrested August 25 and was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge James M. Wicks that same day. 

The arrest and the indictment of Dr. Arnold was the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, along with Ray Donovan, a DEA Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Division, and several other prominent law enforcement officials. As set forth in numerous court filings, between October 2016 and August 2020, Dr. Arnold allegedly prescribed oxycodone, Percocet and Xanax to numerous drug-addicted victims in exchange for sex acts, which occurred after business hours at his former dental office in Lynbrook and current office in Valley Stream. 

 Arnold also prescribed controlled substances in exchange for sex acts at his home in Williston Park.  The victims were not Arnold’s dental patients, and the prescriptions were not for legitimate medical purposes.


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