News and Press Releases

child counselor sentenced to 30 years in prison for medicaid fraud and arson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 3, 2013

WILMINGTON - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court yesterday evening, United States District Judge James C. Fox sentenced MICHAEL SHAWN BROWN, 47, of Selma, to 30 years in prison, followed by a 3 year term of supervised release, and restitution totaling $345,302, on charges of Wire Fraud and Aiding and Abetting in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and Arson to Commit a Federal Offense, 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.

Pursuant to BROWN’s plea of guilty to counts 20 and 24 of the 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 evidence established 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 evidence also established that, BROWN had a relative drive him to the business on the night that the business burned. 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.

As a part of the sentence, BROWN was ordered to make payment of $257,802 in restitution to the North Carolina Fund For Medical Assistance, and $87,500 to the owner of the building that BROWN burned in connection with the offense.

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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