Prison Sentence Upheld
“Personal Assistant” Fraud Case Where Patient Found Dead of Neglect is Affirmed By Court of Appeals
Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that on July 15, 2014, the four-year prison sentence imposed on Lisa C. Luckett, 50, of Cahokia, IL, was affirmed by a panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Appellate Court noted, quoting Chief Judge Herndon, that, “The judge commented that what concerned him the most about the case was that ‘it’s not just simply fraud; it’s fraud on fraud and perhaps on fraud.'”
Luckett pled guilty to a two-count indictment charging that she engaged in a scheme to commit health care fraud. Luckett admitted that she had submitted or caused to be submitted, false fraudulent bills in regard to providing personal assistant services in the Home Services Program, a Medicaid Waiver Program. The program is designed to provide a person with a disability with assistance in performing daily living activities in the home in order to allow the person to stay at home instead of entering into a nursing home. In the Appellate Opinion, the Court noted that [Luckett] was at the time the scheme was undertaken, receiving food stamps and social security payments, decided to take into her home, Dorothy Cooper, who was also receiving food stamps and social security. In addition, Cooper, who was disabled, was eligible for personal assistant services paid by the State of Illinois. It was the additional income and personal assistant funds that the defendant took significant steps to receive and to conceal. A responding EMT testified that upon entering the bedroom, he was assailed with an overpowering foul odor. He found the victim’s body wrapped in a comforter covered in fresh and old fecal matter and showed numerous bed sores, some of which were so severe as to reveal the outline of her hip bone. In deference to Luckett’s presumption of innocence on the state charges she faces, all federal courts only took into account the fraud she committed in arriving at her sentence.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; Illinois State Police; and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ranley R. Killian, William E. Coonan, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Michael Hallock.