News and Press Releases

chadbourne child counselor pleads guilty to arson and wire fraud

August 6, 2012

WILMINGTON - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today MICHAEL SHAWN BROWN, 46, pled guilty to wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343 and arson involving the commission of a federal felony, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(h). United States Attorney Walker is joined in making today’s announcement by Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division.

According to the August 2, 2011, Criminal Indictment, BROWN, was a Licensed Professional Counselor employed at the Chadbourne Elementary School, in Chadbourne, North Carolina, while operating a separate counseling business allegedly providing “free” teacher-supervised tutoring services, snacks, transportation services, and youth activities and games to lower income individuals. As part of the process for registering each new participant at BROWN’s separate business, BROWN required his employees to obtain a copy of the participant’s Medicaid card. After the initial meeting during which the Medicaid participants gave over their Medicaid card, however, some participants had no further contact with BROWN. BROWN billed Medicaid as though he had performed “individual psychotherapy” or “group” behavioral health counseling and therapy sessions on the children for as long as two hours on a single day. BROWN pled guilty to wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent billing transmission that occurred on April 13, 2011.

The Indictment further states that on April 14, 2011, investigators requested access to BROWN’s counseling records. BROWN initially refused, but agreed to meet with investigators at his business on April 18, 2011. The business burned on the night before the meeting. During an interview, BROWN told investigators that the last time he was in his business was at 2:30 pm on the afternoon before the fire. The Indictment alleges that, BROWN had a relative drive him to the business on the night that the business burned. The Indictment further alleges that as a result of the fire investigators were unable to examine whatever records, if any, were located in the business. BROWN’s guilty plea to arson was in aid of the federal felony of obstruction of justice.

The maximum penalty for wire fraud is up to 20 years’ imprisonment. For the arson charge, the maximum penalty is not less than 10 years consecutive to any other term of imprisonment imposed. BROWN still faces charges of first degree murder in Columbus County, North Carolina.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation; the Medicaid Investigation Division of the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office; and the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney William Gilmore and Special Assistant United States Attorney Erica Bing represented the government. Ms. Bing is a prosecutor with the North Carolina Department of Justice, Medicaid Investigation Division. Attorney General Roy Cooper has assigned her to the United States Attorney’s Office to prosecute federal health care fraud criminal matters.



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