Bristol Woman Sentenced to 4 Years in Federal Prison for Defrauding Medicaid Program
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane announced that RONNETTE BROWN, 45, of Bristol, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to 48 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release for defrauding Connecticut’s Medicaid program.
On May 26, 2017, a jury found Brown guilty of 23 counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to the evidence at trial, Brown owned and operated WeMPACT, LLC, a social services business with offices in Bristol and Torrington. Between August 2010 and April 2014, Brown billed Medicaid for psychotherapy services that were not performed. In addition to that scheme, Brown separately conspired with Beverly Coker and another unnamed individual to bill Medicaid for psychotherapy services that represented Coker had performed the services when, in fact, the services were provided by unlicensed individuals, or were not provided at all.
According to court documents and statements made in earlier court proceedings, Coker, a licensed clinical social worker, owned and operated New Beginnings Family Center, LLC, in Hartford. On April 8, 2016, Coker, of Windsor, pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud, admitting that between October 2010 and November 2011, she engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicaid by permitting Brown and another individual to bill Medicaid for psychotherapy services using Coker’s Medicaid provider number. The services were either performed by unlicensed individuals or not performed at all. Under the scheme, Coker kept 30 percent of the proceeds, and paid the remaining 70 percent to Brown and the other individual. As part of her plea, Coker admitted to defrauding Medicaid of approximately $214,555 through the scheme.
Judge Bolden ordered Brown to pay restitution in the amount of $2,033,962.
Brown has been released on a $100,000 bond since her arrest on May 23, 2016. Judge Bolden order her to report to prison on May 31, 2018.
Coker awaits sentencing. Three other individuals were charged and convicted of health care fraud offenses stemming from this investigation.
This matter has been jointly investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office. U.S. Attorney Durham also thanked the Connecticut Department of Social Services for their role in identifying the fraudulent scheme and supporting the investigation and prosecution of the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chief State’s Attorney’s Office and Attorney General’s Office meet regularly as part of The Medicaid Fraud Working Group. The Working Group also includes representatives from the Connecticut Department of Social Services; the Connecticut Department of Public Health; the Drug Control Division of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection; the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the FBI. The Working Group reviews pending issues and cases, identifies trends that might indicate fraudulent activity, and coordinates efforts for maximum results.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David J. Sheldon and Christopher W. Schmeisser.
People who suspect health care fraud are encouraged to report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS.