Torrington Woman Sentenced to 21 Months in Federal Prison for Health Care Fraud
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that PATRICIA LAFAYETTE, 62, of Torrington, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to 21 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for committing health care fraud. Judge Bolden also ordered LAFAYETTE to serve her first six months of supervised release in home confinement, and to pay restitution of $1.6 million.
Accprding to court documents and statements made in court, in March 2011, LAFAYETTE and another individual approached Anne Charlotte Silver, a licensed clinical social worker who owned and operated Silver Counseling Services, LLC, in Canton and Bantam. LAFAYETTE, the other individual, and Silver all agreed to engage in a scheme to defraud Medicaid in which Silver permitted LAFAYETTE and the other individual to bill Medicaid for licensed psychotherapy services using Silver’s Medicaid provider number. The services were either performed by unlicensed individuals or not performed at all. Under the scheme, Silver kept 25 percent of the proceeds, and paid the remaining 75 percent to LAFAYETTE and the other individual.
Over the next four years, LAFAYETTE submitted more than 18,000 false claims for psychotherapy using Silver’s provider number. LAFAYETTE regularly submitted the claims twice a month, every month, over this period. The claims included more than $71,000 in false claims for psychotherapy services purportedly provided to LAFAYETTE’s daughter and grandchildren, and more than $67,000 in false claims for psychotherapy services provided to LAFAYETTE’s son’s girlfriend and her children. As part of her plea, LAFAYETTE admitted to defrauding Medicaid of more than $1.6 million through the scheme, of which LAFAYETTE received more than $1.2 million.
On July 15, 2016, LAFAYETTE pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud.
On May 2, 2016, Silver pleaded guilty to the same charge. She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 8.
In addition, LAFAYETTE’s son, Maurice Sharpe, pleaded guilty to the same charge on December 13, 2016. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19.
“As Judge Bolden recognized in his remarks imposing this sentence, Medicaid fraud is a serious offense,” stated Attorney Daly. “One of the most important benefits the Medicaid program provides is mental health counseling to individuals who cannot themselves afford to pay for such services. Through her actions, the defendant in this case stole $1.6 million needed state and federal tax dollars dedicated to providing mental health counseling, resulting in less money to provide this vital medical care to Medicaid clients. My Office is committed to working with our state partners to vigorously protect the Medicaid program.”
“I commend the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney and the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for their work on this case and continued collaboration to preserve the integrity of government programs that exist to serve those in need,” said Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane.
“Medicaid provides health care services to some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and it’s our agency’s mission to ensure the program funds are spent properly,” said Special Agent in Charge Phillip M. Coyne of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “Working with our federal and state partners, we will continue to hold accountable anyone who attempts to enrich themselves by fraudulently billing for Medicaid services.”
The criminal case was 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. U.S. Attorney Daly thanked the Connecticut Department of Social Services and the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office 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 Connecticut 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. Attorney David J. Sheldon and Auditor Susan Spiegel.
People who suspect health care fraud are encouraged to report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS.