Power

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37187530 - medical team examining patient in hospital.

Sometimes power changes people for the better and sometimes it doesn’t. Some people use a position of power to help others around them, while others use it to serve themselves. A former Nebraska Medicaid administrator used his position as power of attorney for his father to commit Medicaid fraud. Not only did he scam his employer out of $84,000, but also his father out of nearly $300,000. (This guy is definitely not going to win the “Son of the Year” award.)

The former Nebraska Medicaid employee became power of attorney for his father while working for the government healthcare program as administrator of the Medicaid Audit and Financial Support division. (That’s kind of ironic.) Following the death of his wife, the father sold his home and moved into a nursing home in Elkhorn, Nebraska, handing over the reins of his affairs to his son. (Boy, was that ever a big mistake.)

The son didn’t waste any time depositing his father’s pension and Social Security checks into a bank account that he shared with his wife. (The steady stream of retirement income intended for the father was spent by the son for his “own personal use and enjoyment.”) Consequently, it wasn’t long before the father’s nursing home account was in the red for $118,000. (The son was spending his father’s money on himself, while his father became approved for Nebraska Medicaid. The father qualified because he no longer had any assets due to his son’s spending habits.)

Court documents show that the father lost $294,396 as a result of his son’s illegal scheme. This includes money the son stole from his father’s mutual funds account, pension, and $113,858 from the Social Security Administration.Nebraska Medicaid reported a loss of $84,110. (It’s too bad the article didn’t list what the son spent all the money on. Bottom line, he must have had a pretty good time until he got caught.)

The deceptive son pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud for his devious Medicaid fraud scheme that essentially left his father penniless. He is currently awaiting sentencing.

It’s interesting to know that the former Medicaid employee left the agency for a financial associate job with the Nebraska Innovation Campus Business Center. (It’s scary to think that he could be in charge of anything that involves controlling finances.)

Today’s fraud case illustrates the importance of choosing a trusted advisor to serve in a power of attorney capacity. There are lots of articles on how to pick the right person for the job, but the main characteristic to look for is trustworthiness. Perhaps today’s victim truly trusted his son, but unfortunately, the son let his power status go to his head.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Former Nebraska Medicaid administrator pleads guilty to bilking 85-year-old father,” published by The Journal Star on January 8, 2019.

A former state Medicaid audit administrator now admits he bilked the program of $84,000 — and his 85-year-old father of nearly $300,000 — while he was in the job.

Craig A. Barnett, 5310 Sawgrass Drive, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud for the scheme last week in U.S. District Court in Omaha as part of a plea agreement.

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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.