Here’s a case where Medicaid fraud created mental health and behavioral records in young people’s records that could have come back to cause difficulty for them at some point. The scheme also involved stealing a therapist’s identity/Medicaid provider number, which could have created serious problems for the therapist. The following is part of a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina:
A Shelby woman pleaded guilty today for her involvement in a health care fraud scheme that defrauded Medicaid of $8 million for sham mental and behavioral health services, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to defrauding Medicaid, Victoria Finney Brewton, 37, of Shelby, N.C., also pleaded guilty to stealing a therapist’s identity to commit the fraud and to filing a false tax return.
Brewton pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler to seven counts of health care fraud and health care fraud conspiracy, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of filing a false tax return. At today’s plea hearing, the defendant admitted that from 2008 to 2012, Brewton, her co-defendant Linda Radeker, also of Shelby, and others submitted in excess of $8 million in false claims to Medicaid. According to filed court documents and statements made in court, Brewton operated a series of after-school and summer childcare programs in Shelby. Brewton recruited juvenile Medicaid recipients to her childcare programs by promising that the program would be free for Medicaid recipients. After Brewton obtained the children’s and families’ Medicaid recipient numbers, she used this information to fraudulently bill Medicaid for mental and behavioral health services which were never provided.
According to the criminal information, Brewton was not licensed or qualified to provide mental and behavioral health services and she was not approved by Medicaid. Instead, Brewton enlisted the assistance of other complicit Medicaid-approved providers, such as Linda Radeker, and in other instances, stole the identity of Medicaid-approved providers, in order to accomplish the fraud. Court documents indicate that Brewton conspired with Radeker, a licensed professional counselor enrolled with North Carolina Medicaid, to submit claims to Medicaid making it appear that Radeker had provided the claimed mental and behavioral health services when, in fact, Radeker did not provide any of the services. Radeker and Brewton then split the Medicaid payments 50/50 for these false claims.
Filed documents also indicate that Brewton hired licensed therapist K.S.M. in October 2010 to provide services at Brewton’s company, Healing Hearts. Although K.S.M. provided some mental and behavioral health services while she worked at Healing Hearts, Brewton submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicaid through K.S.M.’s Medicaid provider number far in excess of the services actually provided by K.S.M. In or about October 2011, K.S.M. left Healing Hearts after learning that Brewton had submitted false claims through K.S.M.’s Medicaid provider number. Thereafter, Brewton misappropriated K.S.M.’s identity, specifically her Medicaid provider number, in order to continue to submit fraudulent claims to Medicaid after K.S.M. was no longer employed at Healing Hearts. Specifically, the defendant admitted that on or about October 27, 2011, Brewton submitted an Electronic Funds Transfer Authorization Agreement to Medicaid directing that reimbursements for claims submitted through K.S.M.’s provider numbers be deposited into a bank account held and controlled by Brewton. From in or about April 2011 to May 2012, Brewton submitted in excess of $1.8 million in false claims through K.S.M.’s provider number which K.S.M. did not provide. According to court documents, Brewton also misused the Medicaid provider numbers of other therapists employed by her companies in order to submit false claims to Medicaid through their numbers.
The press release does not indicate whether K.S.M. ever blew the whistle on the Medicaid fraud when she discovered what Brewton was doing.