Former New York hospital exec charged with $1.5M in credit card fraud

Michael Lucchesi, MD, former chairman of emergency medicine and chief medical officer at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, has been charged with using a business card for nearly $1.5 million in personal purchases and cash advances.

The former executive was arraigned July 9 on an indictment for charges including first- and second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records and third-degree criminal tax fraud, according to the offices of the Brooklyn district attorney and New York State Inspector General. Dr. Lucchesi was released without bail and ordered to return to court Sept. 25. 

An investigation found that between December 2015 and early 2023, Dr. Lucchesi used a business card for about $115,000 in cash advances; $176,000 in pet care and $348,000 in travel, among other personal charges. SUNY discovered the alleged thefts during an audit, the district attorney's office said. He retired from the hospital last year. 

"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," Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement outlining the charges. 

In a statement to the Daily News an attorney representing Dr. Lucchesi said the charges "don't really reflect who [Dr. Lucchesi] is and what he has accomplished."

"A lot of this money, there's ambiguity in regard to what doctors can do with the money," said Earl Ward, a partner at Emeri Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. "There's more to this case than the cold, bare facts of the indictment." 

A spokesperson for the health system shared the following statement with Becker's

"SUNY Downstate uncovered unusual activity during an internal audit. We immediately notified SUNY System Audit and Counsel, who referred the matter to the Office of the Inspector General. It was subsequently assigned to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for investigation. SUNY Downstate continues to cooperate fully with the investigation."

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