Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cops: 'Thief' stole property deposits (Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Cops: 'Thief' stole property deposits
April 30, 2011 12:05 AM

An Ormond Beach woman already serving 10 years probation for Medicaid fraud was nabbed by Holly Hill police Friday after investigators said she bilked at least eight people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy or rent her Holly Hill assisted living facility.

Vidya Bhoolai, 47, of Ormond Beach, was arrested at her home in another scam involving her property at 700 Daytona Ave., said Holly Hill Police Chief Mark Barker.

Bhoolai was convicted of Medicaid fraud in 2006 and sentenced to 10 years' probation for filing false claims for residents of the assisted living facility. Investigators learned that the residents she filed claims for either never existed or that they did not stay at the facility long enough. As a result, Bhoolai was also ordered to reimburse Medicaid $60,000.

But the decade-long probation did not discourage Bhoolai from her criminal enterprise, Barker said.

According to documents released by investigators -- Holly Hill police was assisted by the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor which will take the case to trial -- Bhoolai and cohorts Steven Sahadath and Krishna Bholai, "engaged in a systematic and ongoing criminal enterprise with the intent and design to defraud multiple victims through the use of false and fraudulent business practices, pretenses, schemes, and willful misrepresentations of material facts."

Barker said Bhoolai entered into lease or sale agreements with people who wanted to invest in the assisted living facility; she took a variety of down payments, deposits or fees from her eight victims.

"Vidya Bhoolai is truly a master thief," Barker said Friday. "That's how she makes her living. She defrauded these people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Among the worst hit were Jose Formosa of Holly Hill who lost about $50,000 to Bhoolai; Prony and Arminia Enriquez of New Jersey who lost just over $17,000 and Satnarine Pundit of Port Orange who lost about $20,000.

In the case of Formosa, he agreed to purchase the assisted living facility from Bhoolai for $250,000 in 2005. He paid her a $50,000 down payment. Bhoolai then offered to help Formoso obtain state licenses from the Agency for Health Care Administration to operate the facility, police said. But when Formoso was ready to submit his application to the state agency, Bhoolai told him to hold off because the house was going to be inspected by the Department of Children & Families over a client's death.

The suspect then convinced Formoso to relinquish operation of the facility to her.

When Formoso attempted to contact Bhoolai repeatedly in early 2005 to determine whether he could send the application, she was nowhere to be found, detectives said. When the victim went to the facility he was kicked off the property by a woman identified as Bhoolai's mother, investigators said.

Even though Formoso hired an attorney, he never got his money back because Bhoolai filed for bankruptcy protection, police said.

Prony and Arminia Enriquez of Montvale, N.J., meanwhile, were eager to purchase an assisted living facility and were introduced to Bhoolai via a real estate agent in November 2008, police said. They agreed to purchase the property for $300,000 contingent on their ability to get financing, investigators said.

The couple agreed to give Bhoolai an advance deposit of $15,000 that was supposed to be credited to their account at closing. Arminia Enriquez gave Bhoolai three checks totaling more than $17,000 toward the down payment for the facility, police said.

When it became evident that the Enriquezes were not going to get financing, the deal fell through and Bhoolai refused to return the payments, investigators said.

A real estate agent who had worked with the couple told police that Bhoolai said the Enriquezes "didn't deserve" to have the money returned, detectives said.

As for Pundit, he told detectives that he was approached by Bhoolai in August 2009 concerning a business proposition. Bhoolai told him about operating an assisted living facility on Daytona Avenue. Agreeing, Punduit paid Bhoolai roughly $20,000 over the next four months for repairs to the site, licensing application fees, rental down payments and other start-up costs, police said.

But investigators said Bhoolai used it for her own purposes. Pundit filed a complaint against Bhoolai with the state Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, police said.

It was Pundit's case that brought Bhoolai's continuing criminal activities to the attention of Holly Hill investigators. Lt. James Malcolm of the Medicaid fraud unit's Orlando bureau notified Holly Hill investigators of Bhoolai's activities in April 2009, police said. The other victims then began to surface, police said.

Bhoolai, Sahadath, 42, and Bholai, 43, are each charged with nine felonies that include racketeering, grand theft and fraudulent use of personal identification, record show.

A hold has been placed on them by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents because there are questions surrounding their immigration status in this country, Barker said. Bhoolai's sons Kahleel and Kennedy Kalipersad were also picked up on Friday by ICE agents, Barker said.

The suspects all hail from Trinidad, Barker said.

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