Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced 601 individuals charged in “largest ever” health care fraud sting
June 29, 2018-United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that 601 individuals were charged in a nationwide health care fraud enforcement initiative on Thursday June 28, 2018. According to the statement, over $2B in health care fraud was uncovered as a result of the investigation which netted indictments against 158 doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. “Of those charged, 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics” the statement continues.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill announced that his health care fraud unit participated in the investigation. According to the statement from General Hill, two Gary residents were charged with overbilling for medical transportation. “Felicia Blount and Charlotte Hunter — allegedly billed Indiana Medicaid for services not rendered, inflating mileage for trips from Northwest Indiana to Indianapolis” according to General Hill. Bount and Hunter run a medical transport company called “Lending a Helping Hand Transportation.” Officials allege that Blount and Hunter overbilled mileage allowances for medical transportation. The total amount of overbilling is estimated to be over $100,000.00
“These investigations are part of a nationwide initiative led by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to these federal agencies, this national effort is the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action” the statement read.
The Indiana Attorney General’s MFCU investigated licensed healthcare professionals and medical offices where suspected illegal activity occurred. Federal agencies involved in one or more of the investigations include the DEA, DOJ, FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
In addition to the two Gary residents, the following Indiana residents were among the 601 charged in the investigation:
Following are summations of cases in which Indiana’s MFCU investigators participated. In each case, the fact that a person has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and these persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
- In Winamac, Indiana, two individuals involved with the operation of Transport Loving Care (also known as Alliance EMS) allegedly submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Michael Wilson and Jaqueline “Jay” Podell allegedly claimed they provided transportation of recipients to dialysis by ambulance service when in fact the recipients were ambulatory, did not require ambulance transportation and were not eligible for ambulance transportation. The indictment claims the loss to Indiana Medicaid is in excess of $10,000. Charges include conspiracy to commit health care fraud (Medicare); health care fraud (Medicare); and Medicaid health care fraud.
- In Gary, Indiana, two individuals involved in the operation of Lending a Helping Hand Transportation — Felicia Blount and Charlotte Hunter — allegedly billed Indiana Medicaid for services not rendered, inflating mileage for trips from Northwest Indiana to Indianapolis. The total fraud to the Indiana Medicaid program is in excess of $100,000. The two are charged with health care fraud.
- In Indianapolis, Aaron Amos allegedly billed the Indiana Medicaid Program for youth mentoring services he did not actually perform. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Amos with the felonies forgery, Medicaid fraud and theft.
- In Lake and Jefferson counties, Melinda Dawn Lambdin-Cochran allegedly used forged documentation to hold and seek employment as a licensed clinical social worker. She was employed in such a role by Dockside Services Inc. in Lake County before resigning that position and applying to fill the same role for Centerstone in Jefferson County, again allegedly using forged documentation. According to Indiana Professional Licensing Agency records, Lambdin-Cochran has never held a license to work as a clinical social worker. She faces felony charges in both counties of forgery and identity deception.
- In Jennings County, Catherine Feaster allegedly forged timesheets and related documents with the name of her husband, as if he performed that work. He husband was actually incarcerated in the Jennings County Jail at the time the work was alleged to have been performed. Catherine Feaster faces felony charges of Medicaid fraud and forgery.
- In Floyd County, Licensed Practical Nurse Rena Baumia allegedly clocked in and out of the Green Valley Care Center in New Albany to create a record that she worked hours she did not actually work. Her actions allegedly caused fraudulent claims to be made to the Indiana Medicaid program. She faces charges of theft and deception.
- In Hendricks County, Licensed Practical Nurse Charolette Moody (aka Charolette Martin) allegedly forged timesheet documents for hours she did not work, which caused false claims to be submitted to the Indiana Medicaid Program. This activity allegedly occurred while she was employed by Maxim Healthcare Services. Moody also allegedly neglected a dependent minor whom she was being paid to provide care. Moody faces felony charges of forgery, neglect of a dependent and Medicaid fraud.
- In Dubois County, Registered Nurse Jilaine Patricia Wirts allegedly stole the legend drug Gabapentin while employed by Memorial Hospital and Healthcare of Jasper. She faces charges of unlawful possession or use of a legend drug and theft.
- In Johnson County, Registered Nurse Alicia Wenzel allegedly stole drugs from Johnson Memorial Hospital’s electronic dispensing machine, including hydromorphone, Ativan and morphine. She then allegedly made false records involving those controlled substances. Wenzel faces multiple felony charges of acquiring a controlled substance by fraud or deceit, possession of a narcotic drug and forgery.
- In Lawrence and Warrick counties, Registered Nurse Brooke Hudson allegedly committed multiple offenses. While employed by IU Health Bedford Hospital in Lawrence County, Hudson, RN allegedly: stole controlled substances that included hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone and lorazepam; obtained a legend drug by fraud or deceit; failed to keep required controlled substance dispensing records; made false statements in or omitted material information from controlled substance dispensing records; and obtained controlled substances by fraud and without authorization. While later employed by Deaconess Gateway Hospital in Newburgh in Warrick County, Hudson allegedly failed to keep required controlled substance dispensing records; made false statements in or omitted material information from controlled substance dispensing records; and obtained controlled substances by fraud and without authorization (including hydromorphone, hydromorphine, and fentanyl). She faces charges of theft and offenses relating to registration.
- In Delaware County, Registered Nurse Rose Mary Johnson — while employed by IU Health/Ball Memorial Hospital — allegedly failed to keep required controlled substance dispensing records; made false statements in or omitted material information from controlled substance dispensing records; and obtained controlled substances by fraud and without authorization (including hydromorphone, hydrocodone and oxycodone). Johnson faces felony charges of offenses relating to registration.
- In Marion County, Dentist Kevin Welch allegedly changed and/or removed records after he became aware that authorities were investigating his billings to the Indiana Medicaid Program. He faces charges of obstruction of justice, a felony.
All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law A criminal charge is merely an accusation and is not evidence of guilt.