Metro

Ex-top doc at SUNY hospital stole nearly $1.5 million that he blew on ‘lavish’ pet resort, travel: DA

A former top doctor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center allegedly stole nearly $1.5 million from the public hospital to fund an extravagant lifestyle that included luxury travel and a premier pet resort, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Dr. Michael Lucchesi, 66, is accused of illegally using a business credit card between December 2016 and January 2023 to rack up $176,000 in pet care, including at Greenleaf Pet Resort & Hotel; $109,000 to New York Sports Club for membership and personal training; and about $115,000 in cash advances, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said.

Prosecutors alleged he also spent a whopping $348,000 on personal travel.

Lucchesi, who lives on Staten Island, held several top positions at SUNY Downstate during his long career at the hospital, including chairman of emergency medicine, acting head of the hospital and medical school and the chief medical officer at different points.

Dr. Michael Lucchesi is facing multiple charges tied to the alleged theft. LinkedIn

“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,” District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement.

“The scope of the alleged thefts is shocking, and my office is committed to holding accountable anyone who rips off the taxpayers.”

The district attorney’s office worked with the state’s inspector general’s office to bring the case forward. The alleged theft was first uncovered by SUNY officials during an audit.  

SUNY Downstate was robbed of nearly $1.5 million, the DA said. William Miller

“New Yorkers deserve doctors who uphold their oath with the utmost integrity,” Inspector Lucy Lang stated. “The spending spree on the State’s dime alleged here is an insult to hardworking taxpayers and the medical profession.”

But Lucchesi’s lawyer attempted to paint a different picture of the case.

“These allegations are serious allegations, no doubt, but as it will be shown at the appropriate times, the funds he used were not stolen funds,” attorney Earl Ward told The Post. “There’s more to this case than the indictment reads and we look forward to presenting a case that will reveal what this is really about.”

A portion of the funds went to NYSC. DW labs Incorporated – stock.adobe.com

He insisted there is “a lot of ambiguity” over how the funds were used.

“There’s more to these allegations than meets the eye,” he said.

Other alleged splurges by the doctor included $52,000 for catering and $46,000 for his children’s tuition payments, as well as money spent on liquor, flowers and electronics, prosecutors said.

He also treated his pets to a premier pet resort, per prosecutors. Google maps

Lucchesi was charged with first- and second-degree grand larceny, first-degree falsifying business records, third-degree criminal tax fraud and other criminal counts.

He was arraigned in court on Tuesday on the nine-count indictment and released without bail with a court date set for September 25.

Lucchesi retired from the hospital last year after three decades on the job. 

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