Ramapo police have expanded their investigation into possible other crimes involving podiatrist Ira Bernstein and his girlfriend, who are already charged with attempting to have the doctor’s wife murdered.
Meanwhile, the Rockland District Attorney’s Office is reviewing allegations of fraud against Bernstein brought by two insurance investigators for United Healthcare.
As part of the criminal charges, police allege Bernstein and Gribeluk tried to pay to have those investigators beaten up.
Since arresting Bernstein and Kelly Myzner Gribeluk on felony conspiracy charges Monday, police have been receiving tips about Bernstein’s business practices and personal life,Ramapo Detective Lt. Mark Emma said Wednesday. He said police have not substantiated any of those tips, including whether Gribeluk was involved.
Bernstein also faces a number of pending civil actions, including allegations involving insurance payments and claims of malpractice, according to a review of records at the Rockland County Clerk’s Office.
Bernstein and his wife are getting a divorce and prosecutors and police said financial gain could have been part of the motive in the alleged plot. The county has a record of the divorce filing, but the contents of such cases are not public.
“There’s a lot money and he had a good business,” Emma said. “Aside from the charges and the DA’s investigation. we’re definitely looking at other incidents. We’ve gotten information in the last 24 to 48 hours that may lead to other charges.”
He said detectives have yet to interview Bernstein’s wife Susan. The couple has three young children.
She could not be reached for comment.
Ramapo police arrested Bernstein, 42, and Gribeluk, 35, following a month-long investigation sparked when the person the couple approached about killing Bernstein’s wife reported the plot to police.
Prosecutor Richard Kennison Moran said the case included video, audiotapes, and wiretapped telephone conversations, as well as an exchange of money with the undercover witness on several occasions. Moran said Gribeluk had “made admissions to detectives as to her role in the matter.”
A Rockland grand jury is scheduled to hear the case on Friday. Both Bernstein and Gribeluk remained in the county jail on $600,000 bail each as of Wednesday afternoon.
Ramapo police surrounded Gribeluk’s rented house in Montebello on Monday as they swept in for her arrest.
“The place was crawling with detectives,” her landlord, Warren Berbit said. “I was told there was a criminal investigation and ushered off the property.”
Berbit said he was “astounded, shocked, surprised and appalled by the allegations” against his tenant and Bernstein.
He said he had met Bernstein twice and “I also was told he had a good reputation at the hospital.”
“If these allegations are true, certainly my opinion is plummeting,” Berbit said. “How, if this is true, can anyone conceive of doing something like this? And how could they think they’d get away with it? They are in never-never land.”
He said Gribeluk was a good tenant who lived in the house with her mother and was visited there by her three children. She also had a housekeeper.
“My dealings with her were very pleasant,” Berbit said.
Bernstein has operated podiatry offices in Ramapo and Bardonia.
He has a mixed reputation across the county, losing his privileges to practice at Good Samaritan Hospital but retaining them at Nyack Hospital.
In 2014, Bernstein forked over $775,000 to a Nyack woman after a botched bunion operation on her feet when she was 16. The woman is now a teacher and reportedly can’t stand without pain.
A Supreme Court jury found Bernstein negligent in 2015 when it awarded $1.4 million to a 12-year-old girl for injuries when he operated on her for bunions and fused her growth plates, leaving her foot deformed and unstable during a growth spurt. The girl’s lawyer argued the operation was unnecessary.
That girl’s mother, Jacqueline Brennan, said her now-18-year-old still lives in pain, but needed a second operation on her left foot at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.
“He mutilated her foot,” Brennan said of Bernstein.
Brennan said she’s glad Bernstein’s wife didn’t get hurt, but hoped his arrest would end his medical career.
“I was very angry he was still allowed to use a scalpel,” she said. “He destroyed many lives.”
In addition to his own medical practice issues, one of Bernstein’s former Rockland Podiatry in Bardonia associates, Laura Piluso, was charged by Rockland prosecutors in 2012 with submitting more than $84,000 in false claims to insurance companies.
The disposition of the case could not be determined Wednesday.
Steve Lieberman – Lohud.com