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Acupuncturist Pleads Guilty to $9 Million Fraud Scheme Against Amtrak

Long Island City Practitioner Admits to Massive Health Care Fraud Involving Amtrak Employees

NEWARK, N.J. – Punson Figueroa, a 57-year-old acupuncturist from Long Island City, New York, has confessed to her role in a comprehensive health care fraud scheme, defrauding Amtrak of $9 million, as announced by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger. Figueroa entered her guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court, facing charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

The illicit operation, running from January 2019 through June 2022, involved Figueroa and accomplices billing Amtrak’s health care plan for fictitious and medically unnecessary services. In an elaborate ploy, Figueroa enlisted Amtrak employees, bribing them with cash to exploit their insurance information for lodging false claims. Throughout this conspiracy, she disbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks, implicating dozens of Amtrak workers.

A critical turn in the investigation occurred on June 16, 2021, when an undercover agent, masquerading as an Amtrak employee, documented Figueroa’s fraudulent practices firsthand. The agent was instructed to falsify attendance for unprovided services, a deceit later substantiated by further fraudulent claims for supposed acupuncture and physical therapy sessions.

The unraveling of this scheme, which led to Amtrak disbursing over $9 million in fraudulent claims, underscores the diligent efforts of law enforcement agencies including the Amtrak Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Amtrak Police Department. This case not only highlights the vulnerabilities in healthcare systems but also showcases the concerted efforts to combat such fraud.

Figueroa’s sentencing is set for July 16, 2024, where she faces up to 10 years in prison and significant fines. This conviction serves as a stark warning against the exploitation of healthcare systems and the rigorous enforcement actions awaiting those who perpetrate such scams.

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