Waterbury Licensed Professional Counselor Pays $39K to Settle False Claims Allegations
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that CHANNA SONTAG, LPC, and her business, CHILDREN’S BEHAVIORAL THERAPY LLC, have entered into a civil settlement agreement with the federal and state governments and will pay more than $39,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the federal and state False Claims Acts.
Sontag is a state Licensed Professional Counselor and the owner of Children’s Behavioral Therapy LLC, a private behavioral health practice in Waterbury. Sontag was enrolled as a Licensed Behavioral Health Clinician in Independent Practice in the Connecticut Medical Assistance Program (“CMAP”), which includes the state’s Medicaid program. It is alleged that, on numerous occasions, Sontag billed Medicaid for 60 minutes of one-on-one individual psychotherapy services when, in fact, she had performed individual psychotherapy services for less time.
To resolve the allegations under the federal and state False Claims Acts, Sontag and Children’s Behavioral Therapy LLC will pay $39,471.22 in order to reimburse the Medicaid program for conduct occurring from November 3, 2014 to March 15, 2017. Sontag has also agreed to a voluntary five-year suspension from the Connecticut Medicaid Program as part of the settlement.
Under the False Claims Act, the government can recover up to three times its actual damages, plus penalties of $11,181 to $22,363 for each false claim.
This case stems from a larger investigation into fraudulent activity in the area of behavioral health services, which has been jointly conducted by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office and the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General, with support from the Connecticut Department of Social Services.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Thidemann, and Assistant Attorney General Karla Turekian of the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General.
People who suspect health care fraud are encouraged to report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS or the Health Care Fraud Task Force at (203) 777-6311.