First Arrest in Nassau County Health Care Probe

June 22, 2001

Robert Friemann, a Huntington Bay accountant, was arrested by FBI agents on charges that he participated in a scheme to defraud Nassau County of “tens of millions of dollars” and was part of a group which pocketed around $2 million in the period 1997-99.

Friemann’s is the first arrest in the case after a federal investigation was opened following massive cost increases in the County’s Employee Health Benefit Plan after it switched from the New York State Health Insurance Plan to one with Melville-based Benefit Plan Administrators.

According to a report in Newsday cost increases reached $64 million before the BPA plan was canceled in 1999. The consequent investigation uncovered a number of questionable practices, and federal prosecutors have filed court papers indicating that they “a high ranking county employee” and an “insurance broker” were involved in a scheme to defraud the county.

Friemann’s attorney, Joseph Ryan of Uniondale, defended his client, saying that the payments he received were all for legitimate consulting work he performed, and accusing federal officials of arresting him in order to pressure him to cooperate in their investigation.

Friemann was arraigned before a U.S. Magistrate, and released on posting a $200,000 bond.

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