Solon couple sentenced to prison for Medicaid fraud
A Solon couple that owned an ambulette company was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay restitutuion for defrauding Ohio Medicaid, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Temeca Hamilton was sentenced to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to nine counts of health care fraud and one count of witness tampering. Antwain Hamilton was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to nine counts of health care fraud.
The court ordered both defendants to pay $823,283 in restitution.
The Hamiltons, both 37, operated their business Star Medical out of Maple Heights, Ohio.
“The punishment in this case reflects the brazen fraud in which these defendants engaged. Even after they knew they were under investigation, they kept defrauding the Medicaid program. Now, it is the defendants who must pay for their corrupt actions,” Dettelbach said.
“In some cases, our investigation found that this couple billed for ambulette runs that they claimed they made at the same time that they were vacationing out of state,” said Attorney General DeWine. “These individuals took lavish trips with the money that they weren’t entitled to and didn’t work for, and now they must pay the price by repaying those funds and serving jail time.”
Ambulette services contract with the Ohio Medicaid program to transport patients in vehicles known as ambulettes. An ambulette is a specially equipped van designed for wheelchair passengers. Medicaid pays ambulette operators for driving Medicaid patients to and from Medicaid-covered appointments, so long as: (1) the patient rides in a wheelchair; (2) a medical doctor certifies the need for the wheelchair and ambulette; and (3) the ambulette itself otherwise meets safety specifications.
The defendants were convicted of illegally charging Medicaid for rides of patients who did not use or need wheelchairs and for billing Medicaid for ambulette attendants, when no such attendants were used by Star Transport. The defendants also billed Medicaid for transports that never occurred, including instances when the defendants were taking Caribbean cruises and vacationing in Hawaii, Cancun, Mexico, and Las Vegas. Both defendants also continued to submit fraudulent billing after Medicaid suspended payments and after the U.S. Attorney’s Office sent them a letter informing them that they were targets of a federal criminal investigation. Temeca Hamilton tampered with a witness, a Medicaid recipient, by asking the witness to tell law enforcement that she been receiving transportation services from Star Transport for the last five years, which was false.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Collyer and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Constance Nearhood, an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Ohio, after an investigation by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Office of the Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Anyone suspecting health care fraud, waste or abuse can report it by calling the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General at 800-447-8477. To learn more about health care fraud prevention and enforcement go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov