Windsor Woman Who Defrauded Medicaid Program is Sentenced
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 today announced that BEVERLY COKER, 70, of Windsor, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to five years of probation for defrauding Connecticut’s Medicaid program.
According to court documents and statements made in court, COKER owned and operated New Beginnings Family Center, a behavioral health practice with an office located in Hartford. In May 2010, Ronnette Brown, of Bristol, and another individual approached COKER and proposed a collaboration with COKER’s practice. Under the proposal, Brown and the other individual would provide services to children and families through We-MPACT, a social services practice they operated in Bristol. COKER was to provide supervision to Brown and the other individual, for which COKER would be paid 30 percent of the proceeds. COKER knew that Brown and Sharpe were not licensed to provide psychotherapy, but understood that they were working toward becoming licensed.
Although COKER never provided supervision to Brown and the other individual, she submitted claims to Medicaid for psychotherapy services provided to We-MPACT’s clients using her provider number. Pursuant to their agreement, COKER paid Brown and others at We-MPACT approximately 70 percent of the amount of money she received from Medicaid. Beginning in January 2011, Brown and the other individual began billing Medicaid directly using COKER’s provider number. COKER ended her relationship with We-MPACT in November 2011.
Through this scheme, COKER and Brown defrauded Medicaid of approximately $214,555.
On April 8, 2016, COKER pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud.
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, stemming from this scheme and related fraudulent billing of Medicaid for psychotherapy services that were not performed. On April 19, 2018, Judge Bolden sentenced Brown to 48 months of imprisonment and ordered her to pay restitution in the amount of $2,033,962.
Three other individuals have been 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.