In Jeopardy

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Calculator and stethoscope on paperwork

If we were playing a game of Jeopardy with the category “Criminals” and this statement – “This Durham, North Carolina man put local college basketball player eligibility in jeopardy while simultaneously committing $4 million in Medicaid fraud”– the answer would be “ Who is today’s ‘Fraud of the Day’ fraudster?” (Alex Trebek would then award you with somewhere between $200 and $1,000 – in theory.)

Haydn “Fats” Thomas, the man who used his extensive criminal background to muck up the futures of several NCAA local college players, has a sordid past involving drugs and guns in addition to stealing Medicaid benefits he didn’t deserve. (Oh, and there’s some tax fraud in there as well.) The unscrupulous man violated NCAA rules when he provided two basketball players at UNC-Chapel Hill with access to luxury rental cars. (According to the NCAA, these are impermissible benefits. Read today’s article for more information on that debacle.)

 Around the same time of the NCAA violations, today’s fraudster was involved with a Medicaid fraud scam where he submitted fraudulent claims to the Durham County Mental Health and Behavioral Health Services (DCMHBHS). He helped them to submit fraudulent claims to Medicaid while working as a manager for an oral surgeon. His position within the practice gave him access to patient names and Medicaid identification numbers which he then forwarded to a co-conspirator at DCMHBHS. (Approximately $4 million in fraudulent Medicaid claims were submitted.) Today’s fraudster transferred nearly $1.5 million from DCMHBHS accounts to his own, but he only reported $2,000 in income. (Unfortunately for him, that means he owes a lot of back taxes.)

Haydn “Fats” Thomas pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and tax fraud. He was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison and must pay around $4 million in restitution to the North Carolina Fund for Medical Assistance, plus back taxes of $518,997 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). His co-conspirator at DCMHBHS was found guilty of tax evasion and healthcare fraud. She was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay restitution.

In addition to causing one college basketball player to be temporarily suspended and another to be dismissed from their college basketball team, today’s criminal also cheated Medicaid beneficiaries and honest taxpayers. Thanks to special agents from multiple government agencies, this criminal is now behind bars, no longer able to place any more victims in jeopardy.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, Fats Thomas, remembered for 2013 UNC drama, sentenced to prison,” published by The News & Observer on May 24, 2019.

Six years after he gained notoriety for jeopardizing the eligibility of local college basketball players, Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a Durham man and felon with a lengthy criminal record, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for Medicaid fraud, state attorney general Josh Stein announced on Friday.

Thomas’ sentencing came eight months after he pleaded guilty in September to two counts: one of making a false statement relating to health care and another of tax evasion. In addition to his prison sentence, the court ordered him to pay restitution of nearly $4 million to the N.C. Fund for Medical Assistance and $518,997 to the IRS, according a statement from Stein’s office.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.