Need vs. Greed

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A need is something you must have to survive, such as food, water, or a roof over your head. A want is something that is nice to have, but you can actually live without it. (Like luxury items funded by government benefit programs.) The concept of need vs. greed is something that is usually taught to children by parents and school teachers. But, a former Portsmouth, Virginia “Teacher of the Year” got the idea mixed up when she committed Medicaid fraud by inflating hours she worked at a second job as a mental health counselor.

Today’s fraudster was a full-time sixth grade elementary school teacher and was selected as “2017 Teacher of the Year.” She also worked a second job as a Qualified Mental Health Professional who provided mental health support services to patients in Chesapeake and Norfolk. Court documents show that the mental health counselor ripped off Medicaid by inflating the number of hours she reportedly spent with patients.

Sometimes the moonlighter documented that she met with multiple clients at the same time, but in different places. (Well, we know that is definitely impossible, unless she was a clone.) Then there were times when she claimed she was meeting with a client when she was actually teaching her sixth-grade class. (She forged signatures for several of her clients and misspelled at least one person’s name. Do you see the irony here?)

During 2013, the deceptive woman claimed to have had 283 meetings lasting 855 hours with clients. (It appears she was working some pretty long hours in addition to her teaching job.) Her lies allowed her to bill Medicaid for $50,869 and she pocketed $15,390 while the rest went to her employer.

After a two-year investigation that began in 2015, during which the woman’s lawyer said she was forced to constantly look over her shoulder, she continued to teach, eventually earning the prestigious “2017 Teacher of the Year” award.

When her case went to court, about a dozen family members and friends showed up at court. Of the 13 letters of support written for the teacher, two were from the school system in which she worked. One of the supporters from the school system praised her for having “great character” and “integrity above reproach.” (Again more irony, since one supporter didn’t know she had been charged and the other one later said he would not have supported her if he had known that she had already pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud.)

The 41-year-old teacher from Portsmouth, Virginia was sentenced to six months of home confinement, four years of probation and 250 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay approximately $50,000 in restitution. The two-faced teacher was eventually forced to resign from her $54,255 a year job.

Here’s a fact about this case that is interesting to note. During 2013, the teacher reported an adjusted gross income of $116,590 to the Internal Revenue Service. (Kudos to her for filing a tax return, but the reality is that she stole funds from the nation’s most vulnerable citizens who deserve healthcare.) This woman had the ability to shape the minds and character of the students she taught and help those with mental health needs, but could not demonstrate character and integrity in her own life. (She let her greed get ahead of her needs and must now pay for her illegal deeds.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Portsmouth teacher of the year gets house arrest for Medicaid Fraud,” posted on WAVY.com on January 23, 2018.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — One of Portsmouth’s 2017 Teachers of the Year was sentenced to 180 days of house arrest Monday for lying about the time she spent working her second job.

Casheba Cannon’s full-time job was as an elementary school teacher but she was also employed by Just by 5, Inc. (JB5), as a Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP).

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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.