Insurance scammer repays $127K, gets six months
SCHENECTADY A man who admitted a scam involving state health insurance commissions paid a total of $127,000 in restitution and was sentenced to six months in jail Tuesday in Schenectady County Court.
William Uris, 53, admitted in August to scheming to defraud Healthy NY, a state-subsidized insurance program aimed at helping small businesses.
Uris signed businesses up for the program, confirming that they were qualified to obtain the Healthy NY coverage when they were not. He then profited by making a commission on the coverage and from telling the businesses they needed to join his National Business Owner’s Association to receive the benefits — which required another fee.
A portion of the money paid Tuesday — about $6,000 — will go to fully reimburse the businesses for that association membership fee, prosecutor Katie McCutcheon said. The rest of the more-than $127,000 in total restitution is to go to reimburse the state for claims paid out to clients Uris illegally signed up.
McCutcheon said reimbursing the businesses was an important part of the plea.
“That was a priority of our office, to make sure that these civilian victims were paid back in whole to the extent that we could do that,” she said.
In court Tuesday afternoon, Uris said little. He thanked the court, as well as his attorney, but did not address the case.
Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye noted the payment of a significant portion of the restitution owed. But she also noted that the jail sentence was called for.
“I think the jail component is also fully warranted, based on the conduct the defendant admitted to,” she said.
Uris was represented by attorney Craig Crist. He declined to comment afterward.
In addition to the jail time and restitution, Uris was also sentenced to five years of probation. A condition of that probation is also that Uris not work in the insurance industry. He was forced to give up his broker’s license as part of the plea.
He pleaded guilty in August to second-degree attempted grand larceny and third-degree grand larceny, both felonies.
Uris was accused of running the scheme from February 2008 to June 2011. He was first arrested in July 2011 and released. The indictment was handed up in February.
In all, Uris was accused of convincing eight businesses in the region to sign up for his association and for the health insurance plan. In some cases, Uris was accused of misrepresenting the prior health insurance situation of the businesses. In others, he was accused of misrepresenting the size of the businesses, officials said.
In one case, Uris signed up the deceased father of one of his clients. The deceased father had never even been associated with his son’s business, prosecutors said.
The case was brought in Schenectady County because MVP Health Care is based in Schenectady, prosecutors said. The Healthy NY program is run through companies like MVP, with portions of claims being reimbursed by the state.
In a statement released later Tuesday, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said there is concern that Uris could have victimized the state in other cases, or that other individuals could have exploited the same lack of oversight that Uris used.
“As long as people paid their premiums for health insurance, no incentives were in place to verify their qualifications for the program,” he said in the statement.
The prosecution was the result of a joint investigation by the state Department of Financial Services’ Criminal Investigations Unit and MVP’s Special Investigations Unit, along with McCutcheon and Schenectady County Assistant District Attorney Laurie Cummings. McCutcheon is the office’s Crimes Against Revenue Program prosecutor.