Two Owners of Florida Counseling Center Arrested for Allegedly Defrauding Medicaid Out of $80,000
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
The two owners of a Minneola, Florida, ministry that helps provide counseling therapy and case management for children and families, each face up to 15 years in prison for allegedly defrauding Medicaid. According to the Florida Attorney General (AG), the pair was arrested on December 11, 2013. The owners were arrested after an investigation by the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) revealed that they allegedly bilked the Medicaid program out of $80,000.
Click here to read the press release from the AG.
Pair Charged With Participating in an Organized Scheme to Defraud Medicaid.
According to a Daily Commercial article, the two owners ran a counseling center that was suppose to link Medicaid recipients with a mental health condition to state-approved mental health counseling centers in the community. However, the MFCU’s investigation uncovered that the owners allegedly billed Medicaid for services that were never rendered. According to the investigation, the duo also instructed their employees to bill for entire families when only one family member received services. Employees of the ministry also allegedly billed for unauthorized expenses. Additionally, it is alleged the ministry received reimbursements for services provided to children who did not have any documented mental health condition.
The two owners are both charged with one count of participating in an organized scheme to defraud Medicaid, according to the Daily Commercial. If convicted, they each face up to 15 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and restitution. Click here to read the article from the Daily Commercial.
Responding to a MFCU Investigative Subpoena.
The MFCU is in charge of investigating and prosecuting health care providers suspected of defrauding the state’s Medicaid program. When the unit opens a case against a provider, the first step is usually the issuance of an investigative subpoena, requesting specific records. It is important to remember that the MFCU would not be involved unless criminal fraud was suspected. This is not a routine audit. Click here to read practice tips on how to properly respond to a subpoena.
Take Fraud Charges Seriously.
We have been consulted by many individuals, both before and after criminal convictions for fraud or related offenses. In many instances, we are convinced that the person is actually not guilty of fraud. However, in many cases those subject to Medicaid or Medicare fraud audits and investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter or they decide not to spend the money required for a top quality attorney to defend them.
If you are accused of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, realize that you are in the fight of your life. Your liberty, life and profession are at stake. You need to sell everything you own, borrow everything you can and hire the absolute best criminal defense attorney available who has experience in defending such cases to represent you.
If you win and are acquitted, at least you still have a professional license and can start over. However, if you lose, you will most probably be in prison for years. You will lose your license. You will be excluded from Medicare. You will be a convicted felon. You will have nothing and will have no way of starting over successfully. Do not delude yourself. This is extremely serious. Be prepared to give up whatever you have if you can avoid a conviction.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicaid Audits, Investigations and other Legal Proceedings.
Medicaid fraud is a serious crime and is vigorously investigated by the state MFCU, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs), the FBI, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Often other state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and other law enforcement agencies participate. Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you are concerned of any possible violations and would like a confidential consultation, contact a qualified health attorney familiar with medical billing and audits today. Often Medicaid fraud criminal charges arise out of routine Medicaid audits, probe audits, or patient complaints.
The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (AFLs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions. To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Have you heard of the MFCU? How would you respond to a subpoena from the MFCU? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Ray, Whitney. “Attorney General Bondi’s Office Announces Arrest of Lake County Couple for Nearly $80,000 Medicaid Fraud.” Florida Attorney General. (December 11, 2013). From: http://www.myfloridalegal.com/newsrel.nsf/newsreleases/7BAB936C94315B3885257C3E006F8895
Daily Commercial. “Ministry Owners Charged with Medicaid Fraud.” Daily Commercial. (December 12, 2013). From: http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/article_cc247b13-5771-5da4-9cab-545c5614aa91.html
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.