DOJ SealDepartment of Justice

United States Attorney John L. Ratcliffe
Eastern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          CONTACT:  DAVILYN WALSTON
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2007                         PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/txe                                        PHONE: (409) 839-2538
                                                                                                 CELL: (409) 553-9881
                                                                                                    

FORMER DIRECTOR OF DRUG TREATMENT CENTER SENTENCED
FOR HEALTH CARE FRAUD

BEAUMONT, TX --  United States Attorney John L. Ratcliffe announced today that a 58-year-old West Orange woman has been sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for health care fraud in the Eastern District of Texas. 

            GAYLA R. THURMAN was sentenced by United States District Judge Thad Heartfield today after pleading guilty to health care fraud on March 16, 2007.  Thurman was also ordered to pay $319,995.00 in restitution to the Texas Medicaid Program. 

            According to information presented in court, Thurman, a licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, was the Executive Director of Artie B’s Bridge of Hope (Artie B’s), located in Orange, Texas.  Artie B’s was enrolled in the Texas Medicaid program as a chemical dependency treatment program and from 2001 to 2005, Thurman submitted numerous claims under the Medicaid program for individual and group therapy sessions for Medicaid-eligible adolescents.  Artie B’s received payment for these claims when in fact, Thurman was not conducting therapy sessions in accordance with Medicaid requirements.  According to the indictment, counselor-interns, under the direction of Thurman, canvassed public housing projects and hosted pizza parties, homework-help sessions, and other activities to lure adolescents and their parents into providing Medicaid numbers for billing purposes.  The Medicaid numbers were then used to bill the Texas Medicaid Program for alcohol and drug counseling even though the Medicaid recipient did not meet the diagnostic criteria for substance abuse counseling, and in many cases, was not even present during the alleged counseling sessions.  The loss to the Medicaid program exceeded $319,000.00.  Thurman was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 5, 2006.

The case was investigated by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Substance Abuse Compliance Group of the Texas Department of State Health Services and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert L. Rawls and Texas Assistant Attorney General Chris Tortorice.
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