Five people, including two employees and one former employee, were arrested for allegedly bilking an estimated $6 million in purchases from 731-bed North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y., between 1998 and 2003 in a fraudulent purchase-and-billing scheme. The employees allegedly submitted and approved false requisitions for large amounts of locks and lock hardware. The scheme involved four vendors, three of which were bogus companies formed to facilitate the larceny, police said. Two defendants, Roy and Rochelle Brown, owned and operated a hardware store that was supposedly supplying many of the locks. North Shore notified police in October 2003 after an accounts payable clerk grew suspicious of invoices.
The arrested employees, who have been suspended, are Phillip Marra, 37, a laborer at the hospital since 1989, and Robert Patrick, 46, assistant director of engineering, who worked at the hospital since 1976. Another defendant, Ray Orlando, who was employed for 18 years at the hospital as a locksmith, was fired for an unrelated reason in January 2003, said Terry Lynam, a hospital spokesman. Lynam said measures to prevent such fraud were in place before the scheme was uncovered. "The vast overwhelming majority of our employees are honest people. When you see something like this, it is disconcerting," he said. -- by Cinda Becker