Prospect Lefferts

Michael Lucchesi, former chairman of emergency medicine at SUNY Downstate, charged with allegedly stealing almost $1.5M

July 10, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, the institution at the heart of the alleged $1.5 million scam by former Chairman of Emergency Medicine Dr. Michael Lucchesi. Photo courtesy of SUNY
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Dr. Michael Lucchesi, 66, the former chairman of Emergency Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, has been arraigned on Tuesday on an indictment for grand larceny and other crimes, accused of misappropriating approximately $1.448 million through a business credit card.

Lucchesi reportedly lived it up on the card, splurging $176,000 on pampered pet care, jet-setting to the tune of $348,000, and shelling out $109,000 for gym memberships.

District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and NYS Inspector General Lucy Lang announced the charges, which include first- and second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records, and third-degree criminal tax fraud. 

“As a high-ranking doctor at this vital healthcare institution, this defendant was entrusted with access to significant funds, which he allegedly exploited, stealing more than one million dollars to pay for a lavish lifestyle,” DA Gonzalez said. “The scope of the alleged thefts is shocking, and my office is committed to holding accountable anyone who rips off the taxpayers. I am grateful to the Inspector General’s Office for its partnership on this case.”

Inspector General Lang added, “New Yorkers deserve doctors who uphold their oath with the utmost integrity. The spending spree on the state’s dime alleged here is an insult to hardworking taxpayers and the medical profession. My office will continue to rigorously investigate any public servant who violates the public trust by abusing their position of authority.”

Lucchesi was arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo and released without bail. He is scheduled to return to court on September 25.

According to the investigation by the Brooklyn DA’s Office, between December 1, 2016, and January 31, 2023, Lucchesi allegedly misused a business credit card designated for official use by the University Physicians of Brooklyn, a clinical practice associated with SUNY Downstate. His alleged unauthorized expenditures totaled approximately $1.448 million.

The details of his spending include approximately $115,000 in cash advances, $176,000 in pet care (with $120,000 spent at The Greenleaf Pet Resort & Hotel in New Jersey), and $348,000 on personal travel. 

Additionally, he allegedly paid $109,000 to the New York Sports Club for a gym membership and personal training, $52,000 for catering expenses and $46,000 for his children’s tuition. Other personal expenses included payments for online shopping, flowers, liquor, electronics, and various other items.

The alleged thefts were uncovered during a SUNY audit. The investigation was conducted by Investigative Counsel Thomas Collery, Senior Investigative Auditor Angelus Okeke, Investigative Auditor Victoria Oliva and Senior Investigator Jimmy Gibson. It was supervised by Chief of Investigations for the Downstate Regional Offices Ben Defibaugh, Deputy Inspector General for the New York City Regional Office Ken Michaels, and Chief Deputy Inspector General Michele Bayer. KCDA Chief Financial Investigator Ludwig Sanchez also assisted in the case.

SUNY System Chief Communications Officer Lane Filler responded to the Eagle, stating, “The alleged theft of almost $2 million in state money by a former Downstate employee is deeply troubling. As soon as these allegations were brought to SUNY System’s attention, we directed Dr. Riley to fully examine all of Downstate’s systems and cooperated fully with law enforcement in their pursuit of justice on behalf of Downstate.”

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