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- Chambers Russell
Henry Zwack, Up to His Old Tricks
Long Island Current
Up until February of 2006, Crossings was the largest provider of outpatient substance abuse treatment on Long Island with offices throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Unfortunately, Crossings was unjustifiably shut down by the state of New York. The diabolical actions that led to the demise of the company were executed by Henry Zwack, General Counsel for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) in Albany. Zwack’s wrong doing was co-conspired with the acting commissioner of OASAS, Shari Noonan. We have reason to believe that the Governor himself, George Pataki had his hand in it as well.
Crossings Recovery Centers had been in operation for almost 20 years and never had a blemish on its record. The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (which is the licensing division for all substance abuse treatment providers in New York) had audited Crossings every year and had renewed its license with no issue. In late 2005, OASAS approved the acquisition of Passages Counseling Center, making Crossings the largest provider of outpatient substance abuse treatment on Long Island, with more outpatient clinics than any other provider, possibly even in the State. Only a few months later, OASAS issued a Determination to Revoke Crossings’ operating license. If OASAS had concerns about Crossings’ operations, why would it approve such an acquisition just months before?
In addition to providing substance abuse treatment to over 1500 patients on Long Island, Crossings also providing housing services. These housing facilities provided shelter to hundreds of homeless individuals who were in recovery from some type of an alcohol and/or drug addiction. Facilities such as these are commonly referred to as “Sober Homes”.
The community has been opposed to sober homes for many years. It was a classic case of NIMBYism. No one wants a house with recovering addicts on their block. It didn’t matter that Crossings wasn’t breaking any laws. It was all about the bias that people have towards that particular population. The community had complained to the local politicians, despite the fact that there had never been any reports of disturbances caused by the residents at Crossings’ housing facilities. The politicians, wanting to be re-elected had to do something about it so they applied pressure to their counterparts in Albany…OASAS.
When State officials analyzed the sober housing situation on Long Island, they also determined that in addition to public hysteria, Sober Housing, in conjunction with Treatment proved to be fairly lucrative to the treatment agency that was providing the services. This is when they got Henry Zwack involved. Zwack has a long history of corruption dating back to his time as the County Executive of Rennsalaer, a county just outside of Albany. Zwack was forced to resign due to charges of perjury, conspiracy, corruption and other legal atrocities. Zwack had proven himself to be a real political trouble maker. However, because of his relationship with the Bruno brothers, he landed a nice, cushy position at NYS OASAS.
Zwack’s first lame attempt at destroying Crossings was to attack its sober housing system. Realizing that Crossings wasn’t breaking any laws and that OASAS had no jurisdiction over sober homes at that time, he sent his attack dogs on Crossings’ treatment clinics. OASAS auditors began what they called a “Targeted Inspection” in a desperate attempt to find anything they could use against the company.
Zwack conjured up minor violations as a means in which to bring the company down. Under normal circumstances, OASAS would issue routine citations requiring an agency to implement a corrective action plan within 30 days. In fact, an OASAS representative also cited, under oath, that their scoring mechanism indicated that Crossings would have received license renewals.
Zwack started participating in unethical and illegal actions such as contacting State agencies that referred patients to Crossings and ordered them to cease all referrals as well as contacting the NYS Attorney General’s Office to inform them that due to the alleged violations, his intentions were to revoke the operating license. Because of this, Medicaid had imposed a 100% withhold on all payment to Crossings, making it impossible for Crossings to meet operating expenses. He also issued cease and desist orders to Crossings that he did not have the authority to issue and sent them through the mail, which is considered to be mail fraud.
Zwack had violated Crossings’ right to due process by participating in these illegal actions. He, in effect, took a back door approach to shutting the company down without giving Frank Buonanotte, the company’s CEO, an opportunity to challenge his accusations. This, among other things, was a violation of Buonanotte’s constitutional rights.
Because of the Medicaid withhold and Crossings’ inability to meet expenses, OASAS requested court approval to appoint itself as a receiver. A NYS Supreme Court Judge allowed OASAS to be appointed as a receiver since Crossings was having difficulty paying its bills. It apparently didn’t matter to the Judge that the reason Crossings couldn’t pay its bills was because New York State was unjustly withholding its Medicaid payments. However, the judge claimed that his ruling was in the best interest of the patients and indicated that the terms of the receivership were that OASAS had to “maintain” all business operations, run the agency and pay bills until all legal proceedings were finalized.
On the first day of the receivership, despite judicial orders, Zwack began dismantling the agency by referring patients to other healthcare providers and not allowing for new admissions. Within a matter of a week, the entire company was destroyed. As part of the fiduciary responsibility of the receivership, Zwack and OASAS were required to pay staff, rent and other operating expenses for the entire term of the receivership. OASAS paid for nothing. In fact Zwack had lied to the employees of Crossings by saying that because Frank Buonanotte didn’t sign a particular document, he was unable to pay them. This obviously was a blatant lie considering that the terms of the receivership were decided by the judge, not by Frank Buonanotte.
There are many articles that were written about Frank Buonanotte and Crossings and posted on the Internet that are 100% untrue. The stories were all fabricated by Henry Zwack and the State in an effort to discredit the reputation of Buonanotte and his company and justify their own unlawful actions. The fact remains that Crossings was an important part of the community helping thousands of people recover from addiction. Frank Buonanotte is a respectable business person with no prior record before the States slander. Buonanotte expects to have his day in court and will attempt to have Henry Zwack indicted for his unspeakable actions. As a result, the drug and alcohol problem has risen to an all-time high on Long Island with drug related deaths and DWIs at their peak. Wake up Long Island! Call your local politicians and make them aware of what is going on.
Frank Buonanotte is currently suing the State of New York, as well as Henry Zwack and Shari Noonan personally under the RICO Act for corruption, racketeering, violation of his constitutionally protected right to due process, etc. The most disgusting part of the State’s illegal actions was that they displaced over 1500 patients, all because of their own political agenda.
Henry Zwack, Up to His Old Tricks