Parking lots are the place where 20 percent of motor vehicle accidents occur and quite often where movie producers foreshadow that something bad is about to happen. From high speed car chases and fist fights to kidnappings and drug deals gone wrong, unfortunately, things happen in parking lots that don’t involve just parking your car. Today’s “Fraud of the Day” centers around a Murfreesboro woman who committed Medicaid fraud by accepting a cashier’s check in a North Carolina parking lot.
The female licensed nurse practitioner was part of a larger Medicaid fraud scheme that involved billing the government insurance program for more than $2 million in fictitious services. The 62-year-old fraudster involved in today’s case authorized multiple Medicaid beneficiaries to receive outpatient behavioral health services, even though she never evaluated the patients. (She received a $500 cashier’s check for signing off on the bogus claims.) Before a medical provider can bill Medicaid for outpatient behavioral health services, a medical order must be authorized and signed following a patient evaluation. (The nurse’s signature was the ticket to fraud.)
The former nurse practitioner from Murfreesboro pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and now faces up to five years in prison, $25,000 in fines and three years of supervised release. As part of a plea agreement, she will surrender her nursing license and any interest she had in companies that bill the government for healthcare services. The former nurse has also agreed to be permanently excluded from Medicare and Medicaid programs. (Accepting that $500 cashier’s check had a lot of serious ramifications.)
The man at the top of the Medicaid fraud scheme is the former president of a behavioral health practice that had access to a multitude of patient names and Medicaid identification numbers. He provided this information to co-conspirators who then used the nurse practitioner to authorize their treatment. They were responsible for submitting bills for more than $2 million in fictitious services. Three of the co-conspirators have already been sentenced for their part in the crime, while the former president is awaiting his sentencing.
When today’s fraudster decided to sign on to a life of crime, little did she know that the result of her fraudulent actions would have such huge consequences. The criminal rendezvous in the parking lot not only reminds us all to choose our parking spots wisely and to be aware of our surroundings, but to also secure our future by making wise choices that include locking out fraud, no matter the perceived benefit. (This woman has effectively sealed the fate of her future for $500. Such a huge price to pay for a small amount of money.)
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Nurse pleads guilty in Medicaid fraud case,” published by Triangle Business Journal on September 22, 2017.
A nurse has pleaded guilty to illegal remunerations related to a broader Medicaid fraud case in the state.
Christine Hicks Thomas, 62, of Murfreesboro, faces up to five years in prison as well as $25,000 in fines and three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. As part of her plea agreement, she has agreed “to surrender her nursing license, to surrender any interest she has in companies that bill the government for health care services, and to be permanently excluded from Medicare and Medicaid programs.”