United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
CHARLOTTE WOMAN SENTENCED TO 34 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR HEALTH CARE FRAUD CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Charlotte woman was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court to serve 34 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for committing health care fraud, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney also ordered Darlene Hughes, 53, of Charlotte, to pay total restitution in the amount of $194,436.61.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Derrick Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations, Atlanta Region, and Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division.
In August 2010, Hughes entered a plea of guilty to one count of health care fraud. According to a federal criminal bill of information and plea documents, Hughes stole the name and license of a speech therapist and falsely and fraudulently held herself out to be a licensed speech therapist. Hughes then obtained employment as a speech therapist at two local nursing homes and assisted living facilities who relied upon her misrepresentations. According to filed court documents and statements made in court, Hughes’ fraud caused those facilities to submit hundreds of claims to Medicare for services which Hughes was not qualified to provide, defrauding the facilities and Medicare of more than $142,000.
In issuing the sentence in this case, Judge Whitney noted that the scheme to defraud involved a “level of sophistication and skill of deceit that is pretty overwhelming.” Hughes has been on release since entering her guilty plea in August 2010 and was permitted to self-report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a facility. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation was led by HHS-OIG with the assistance of the FBI. The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melissa Rikard and Kelli Ferry of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte. If you suspect Medicare or Medicaid fraud please report it by phone at 1-800-447-8477 (1-800-HHS-TIPS), or E-Mail at HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.