Former lawmaker broke law, narcotics prosecutor charges
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The indictment handed up against former New York state Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny charging him with taking part of an elaborate scheme to illegally prescribe opioids to patients marked a dramatic fall from grace for the one-time popular politician.
Brook-Krasny was indicted, along with 12 other defendants, on health care fraud and other charges on April 7.
Brook-Krasny, a Democrat, represented the 46th Assembly District (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Coney Island) from 2006 to mid-2015, when he suddenly announced that he was resigning to take a job in the private sector.
The indictments were announced by Bridget G. Brennan, the special narcotics prosecutor for New York City.
The defendants, including doctors and other healthcare professionals, are charged with running a so-called “pill mill” through three medical clinics with the goal of prescribing painkillers to patients. Many of the defendants also forced those patients to undergo unnecessary medical tests in order to continue receiving the opioid prescriptions, according to the indictment. The defendants then allegedly received reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare.
The scam had been operating since 2013 and resulted in more than 6.3 million opioids being placed on the black market, according to Brennan.
Brook-Krasny, 59, is affiliated with Quality Laboratory Services in Sheepshead Bay. He allegedly ordered unnecessary lab tests and then allegedly altered urine samples to make it easier for patients to get prescriptions for painkillers.
Specifically, Brook-Krasny is charged in the indictment with conspiracy, health care fraud, scheme to defraud and scheme to defraud by unlawfully selling prescriptions.
“The defendants are crooks who stole millions from New York City’s cash-strapped health care system. They used pain pills instead of revolvers, but they robbed the city all the same,” New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters said in a statement.
Brook-Krasny, the first Soviet-born man to serve in the New York state Assembly, achieved iconic status among his fellow Russian immigrants in the Coney Island-Brighton Beach area during his political career.
He was born in the former Soviet Union in 1958.
In an interview with the Brooklyn Eagle in 2012, Brook-Krasny recalled his life in Russia. He said it was hard being a Russian Jew in the Soviet Union because it was an atheist country with a government that made life hard for Jews.
His family listened to the “Voice of America” on the radio. “We always knew that the official Communist Party line was just propaganda. The government would say one thing, but we knew it wasn’t true,” Brook-Krasny said.
Brook-Krasny went to college and earned degrees in engineering and economics. He landed a job in Moscow working for a government agency that oversaw the production of refrigerators.
It took two strokes of extraordinary luck to get Brook-Krasny out of Russia. Mikhail Gorbachev came to power and introduced a number of reforms, including a new Soviet policy in which the government loosened its grip on its citizens a little. Brook-Krasny decided that this was his chance. He applied for a visa.
The second stroke of luck had to do with real estate. At the time, Brook-Krasny was in his late 20s and was living in a large apartment in Moscow. The apartment had a terrace with a stunning view of the city. A government bureaucrat wanted the apartment, so Brook-Krasny’s visa application was fast-tracked.
“I lived in Italy for 10 months after I left Russia. I had to wait for the U.S. government to approve my visa,” Brook-Krasny said.
He lived in a beach town on the Mediterranean, and worked on a fishing boat, pulling in the nets after the nets were filled with fish.
While he enjoyed his time in Italy, Brook-Krasny said he knew it was a waiting station, a stop on the road in his journey to his ultimate destination: the United States.
“I dreamed of coming here since I was 14 or 15 years old,” he told the Eagle. “I always had the feeling you could do anything here if you worked hard. This is a country of leaders. If you are willing to lead, you can be successful.”