United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Hoke County woman was sentenced today to serve 36 months in federal prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release for her role in a Medicaid fraud scheme, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Unit (MIU); Derrick Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations, Atlanta Region; and Jeannine A.Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI).
Teresa Marible, 44, of Raeford, N.C. entered a plea of guilty on July 27, 2011, to one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud. Marible and her co-conspirators, including Joanna Patronis and Giraurd Hope who were also indicted separately for health care fraud and related charges, engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicaid by seeking reimbursement payments for fraudulent claims submitted to Medicaid.
According to court documents and court proceedings, from about March 2009 to about April 2011, Marible represented herself to be a provisionally-licensed provider of behavioral and mental health services. However, as court records indicate, Marible was not licensed to provide such services, and she was not approved by Medicaid to provide mental and behavioral health services or to seek reimbursement for services rendered to Medicaid recipients. According to statements made during today’s sentencing hearing, Marible purchased a fake degree and transcript online and failed the license examination five times.
Filed court documents and court records show that Marible, with the assistance of Patronis, Hope and others, sought and received payments from Medicaid totaling over $1.1 million, by submitting false and fraudulent claims for mental and behavioral health services that Marible claimed she had provided to Medicaid recipients. Marible submitted these fraudulent claims through, among others, Patronis’ company, A Time for Everything, and through Hope’s company, Hope and Family Behavioral Resources. Marible, Patronis, Hope and others each received a percentage of the reimbursement for each of the fraudulent claims that were paid out by Medicaid for the claimed services.
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney also ordered Marible to pay $1,135,662 in restitution. In announcing today’s sentence, Judge Whitney stated that this was “a sophisticated fraud,” noted that the Medicaid system is a “trust-based system” and that the sentence would deter others from “dipping into federal health care programs.”
Marible has been released on bond since entering her guilty plea. She will be ordered to report to a federal facility, at which time she will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
In October 2011, Hope was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison and was ordered to pay over $1.9 million in restitution. Patronis awaits sentencing.
The investigation into Marible was handled by HHS-OIG, MIU, and IRS. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelli Ferry of the U.S. Attorney’s Charlotte Office.
The investigation and charges are the work of the Western District’s joint Health Care Fraud Task Force. The Task Force is multi-agency team of experienced federal and state investigators, working in conjunction with criminal and civil Assistant United States Attorneys, dedicated to identifying and prosecuting those who defraud the health care system, and reducing the potential for health care fraud in the future. The Task Force focuses on the coordination of cases, information sharing, identification of trends in health care fraud throughout the region, staffing of all whistle blower complaints, and the creation of investigative teams so that individual agencies may focus their unique areas of expertise on investigations. The Task Force builds upon existing partnerships between the agencies and its work reflects a heightened effort to reduce fraud and recover taxpayer dollars.
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.