A notorious Brighton Beach landlord, who was investigated for conditions at his cramped flophouses known as three-quarter homes, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly receiving $2 million in Medicaid kickbacks.
Yury Baumblit and his wife, Rimma, were arraigned in Kings County Criminal Court on felony charges of second-degree grand larceny and second-degree money laundering.
Baumblit is accused of forcing tenants at his three-quarter homes to go to certain substance-abuse treatment providers, the New York Times reported. The providers, in turn, paid $2 million in Medicaid kickbacks to companies run by the Baumblits, an assistant attorney general, Megan Friedland, said at court on Wednesday.
The Baumblits’ five-bedroom, 5,200-square-foot home in Brighton Beach features chandeliers, a bar and a swimming pool, and the couple owned expensive furs and jewelry, Friedland said, the Times reported.
“There’s an ostentatious lifestyle that’s being paid for by the state, in essence,” Friedland said.
A lawyer for the Baumblits said his clients were the victims of a “witch hunt,” and “adamantly denies there have been kickbacks,” the newspaper reported.
So-called three-quarter homes are unregulated, which has led to crowded quarters often overrun with vermin. Poor people in need of treatment for substance abuse, the mentally ill, and homeless who did not want to use the city’s shelters use these homes.
The Baumblits have run many of these home since 2009 and last year faced criminal charges for illegally evicting tenants and were the focus of a Times’ investigation.
If convicted, the couple could face up to 15 years in prison. [NYT] — Dusica Sue Malesevic