ambulance company owner and son indicted in health care fraud conspiracy
GREENVILLE - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that today United States District Judge Malcolm J. Howard unsealed an Indictment against PHYLLIS STALLINGS HARRELL and PAUL LYNN TRUEBLOOD, both of Belvidere, North Carolina. The Indictment charges HARRELL and TRUEBLOOD in 68 counts, including Conspiracy to Commit Health Care and Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; Health Care Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1347; Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343; False Statements Relating to Health Care Matters, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1035; Conducting Transactions in Criminally Derived Property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957; and Making Material False Statements, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.
Among other things, the Indictment alleges that between 2006 and 2009, HARRELL and TRUEBLOOD conspired to defraud Medicare and Medicaid in connection with various billings for alleged non-emergency ambulance transportation services. The Indictment alleges that HARRELL, the mother of TRUEBLOOD, billed Medicare and Medicaid through Harrell Medical Transport, a company owned by HARRELL and operated by HARRELL and TRUEBLOOD. The Indictment further alleges that TRUEBLOOD operated a wheelchair van transportation company that transported Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to routine medical appointments on a weekly basis. The Indictment alleges that although patients were transported in wheelchair vans, HARRELL and TRUEBLOOD billed Medicare and Medicaid through Harrell Medical Transport as though the trips had occurred in an ambulance. Medicare and Medicaid do not pay wheelchair van providers for wheelchair van transportation. The Indictment alleges that HARRELL and TRUEBLOOD fabricated and caused to be fabricated information in medical records to make it appear as though the patients had traveled by ambulance. The Indictment also alleges that HARRELL and TRUEBLOOD caused employees of Harrell Medical Transport to omit material information in medical records concerning the ability of patients to walk and ride in wheelchairs, which affects whether Medicare and Medicaid will pay for ambulance transportation.
If convicted, HARRELL and TRUEBLOOD each face up to 20 years in prison for Conspiracy, 10 years in prison for Health Care Fraud, 20 years in prison for each count of Wire Fraud, 5 years in prison for each count of Making False Statements Relating to Health Care Matters, 10 years in prison for Conducting Transactions in Criminally Derived Property, and 5 years in prison for each count of Making Material False Statements. HARRELL and TRUEBLOOD also face up to a $250,000 fine on each count in the Indictment, as well as mandatory restitution if ordered.
The investigation of this case is being conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, the North Carolina Department of Justice's Medicaid Investigations Unit, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore is prosecuting the case for the government.