United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Charlotte speech pathologist pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to defrauding Medicaid, 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 Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Unit (MIU).
A criminal bill of information filed on April 16, 2012, charged
Junelle Gist Washington, 38, formerly of Charlotte, with one count of health care fraud for submitting false claims to Medicaid seeking payment for services that were not rendered.
According to the charging document, the plea agreement and statements made in court, from November 2006 to February 2011, Washington, who is also known as Eunice Gist, filed claims for payment to North Carolina Medicaid on behalf of approximately 41 patients for speech therapy services that had not been provided. According to court documents, during this time period Washington was a licensed speech therapist who practiced in the Western District of North Carolina and who was enrolled as a provider with North Carolina Medicaid. In pleading guilty, Washington admitted that the total fraudulent requests for payment submitted to North Carolina Medicaid and paid out to her during this period was approximately $360,229.85.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting those who defraud Medicare and Medicaid for personal gain,” said Ms. Tompkins. “We are joined by our federal and state partners in the fight against health care fraud and together our response will continue to be coordinated and effective. Our common goal is to protect taxpayers from health care fraud, which ultimately drives up costs for everyone, and to safeguard the integrity and strength of our health care system.”
Washington has been released on bond. The defendant faces a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. A federal judge will determine the actual sentence at a sentencing hearing which has not been scheduled yet.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins praised the investigative work of the FBI and MIU in connection this case. Ms. Tompkins also thanked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department which referred the case to federal authorities and, in doing so, Ms. Tompkins noted the importance of information sharing in reporting, investigating and prosecuting health care fraud.
vThe case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny Grus Sugar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.