Four charged in multi-state health care fraud conspiracy

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Four people have been indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and aggravated identify theft related to fraudulent claims filed with the Georgia, Florida and Louisiana Medicaid programs.

Matthew Harrell, 42, of Atlanta, GA, Nikki Richardson, 42, of Fairburn, GA., Tomeka Howard, 42, ofDecatur, GA, and Andrea Barrett, 42, of Virginia Beach, VA were indicted on Nov. 7.

Harrell began billing Louisiana Medicaid  for Counseling Service on March 28, 2015, submitted more than 8,500 claims and had been paid over $505,000.

“Through their scheme, the defendants are alleged to have fraudulently billed over $3 million to Medicaid,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Their greed knew no bounds of decency, as they left a number of victims in their wake.”

“The FBI continues to play a key and critical role in protecting federally funded health care based programs, to include Medicaid and Medicare, from those individuals who would, through fraud, attempt to divert those funds to their own accounts and away from those who desperately need the services that they provide.  The federal investigation and resulting federal indictments of these four defendants illustrates not only the problems of healthcare fraud but the aggressive efforts underway by law enforcement to combat it,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

“The defendants allegedly ripped off programs meant to provide critical mental health services for children and adults.  This type of criminal behavior will not be tolerated,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge for HHS OIG. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to uncover these fraudulent schemes and bring criminals to justice.”

“The Medicaid Program is not an endless source of money, and those who victimize the program take valuable resources away from the people that need them,” said Attorney General Chris Carr.  “The Georgia Attorney General’s Office will continue to collaborate with our federal and state partners to investigate these kinds of egregious cases.”

“This multi-millon dollar Medicaid scheme spanned several states and involved the stolen identities of medical professionals and children—but through coordinated investigative efforts with our federal partners and Medicaid Fraud Control Units in Georgia and Tennessee this scheme was thwarted and arrests have been made,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Medicaid fraud essentially steals from our taxpayers and we will not tolerate anyone manipulating the program to get rich.”

“Medicaid welfare fraud steals money from the taxpayers and jeopardizes care for the needy,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. “We are grateful to have law enforcement partners throughout the country who are committed to investigating, arresting, and prosecuting criminals who defraud our State and its people.”

 According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: The defendants owned or worked with companies that purportedly provided mental health counseling and treatment to children and adults.

These companies included, Revive Athletics, Inc., R.A. Florida, Inc., Jode Counseling Treatment and Training Services, LLC, 118 Management and Consulting, Inc., A Brighter Day, LLC, and Lillie Cares Health Services, LLC.

These companies billed over $3.7 million in Medicaid claims, and received approximately $2.5 million based on the fraud.  

 According to the indictment, the defendants stole the identities of mental health service providers, including a psychologist and licensed clinical social workers, in Georgia and Florida.

The defendants’ companies then used the stolen identities to submit fraudulent Medicaid claims seeking payment for mental health services that were never provided.

The defendants attempted to conceal the fraud scheme by directing employees and contractors to create fraudulent documentation and forge provider signatures to support the fraudulent billing.

 The case is being investigated by the Georgia State Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Medicaid Fraud Control Units for Florida and Louisiana. Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Brown and Georgia Assistant Attorney General Robin Daitch are prosecuting the case.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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