Waterbury Man Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud Charge
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that MAURICE SHARPE, 44, of Waterbury, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to one count of health care fraud.
This matter stems from an ongoing health care fraud investigation being 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. The investigation identified fraudulent activity in the area of behavioral health services. Through the Medicaid program, the State of Connecticut provides coverage for mental health and counseling services to citizens who cannot otherwise afford health insurance. “Behavioral health” includes a wide variety of health care providers who provide care on an outpatient basis, including psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, and licensed alcohol and drug counselors.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in February 2011, SHARPE and his mother, Patricia Lafayette, and another individual, formed Family First Community Support Services, LLC, a social services agency located in Torrington. SHARPE was the office manager for the agency. Lafayette and the other individual approached Anne Charlotte Silver, a licensed clinical social worker who owned and operated Silver Counseling Services, LLC, in Canton and Bantam. Lafayette and the other individual proposed a scheme to Silver to defraud Medicaid by permitting Lafayette and the other individual to bill Medicaid for 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.
As part of his plea, SHARPE admitted that he submitted claims to Medicaid for psychotherapy services that falsely represented that Silver had personally provided the services. SHARPE also admitted that he submitted hundreds of claims to Medicaid for psychotherapy services purportedly provided to SHARPE’s family members, including SHARPE’s children and nieces and nephews, when no such services were ever provided. SHARPE also assisted in the preparation of records that falsely documented the nature and extent of the services received by his family members.
The charge of health care fraud carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
Lafayette and Silver previously pleaded guilty to health care fraud for their roles in the scheme. As part of their pleas, Lafayette and Silver admitted defrauding Medicaid of over $1.6 million through the scheme. They both await sentencing.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Sheldon and Auditor Susan Spiegel.
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.
People who suspect health care fraud are encouraged to report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS.