Home Healthcare Worker Pleads Guilty to Billing Medicaid While on a Cruise Ship
St. Louis, MO – Demagio Smith, 28, of St. Louis, Missouri, pled guilty to conspiracy to make false statements to Medicaid. In his plea agreement, Smith admitted that he repeatedly submitted false time sheets to Medicaid that suggested that he was working as a home health care aide during 2013-17, and was taking care of two women inside their homes. In reality, Smith was actually working at another job or traveling outside of Missouri on the dates and times indicated in his time sheets. Smith’s out of town trips included travel to California, New Jersey, the Virgin Islands, and a voyage on a Caribbean cruise ship. Sentencing for Mr. Smith is set for March 6, 2019.
Smith’s co-defendant in this case, Nova Paden, also pled guilty and was sentenced in December 2017. In her plea agreement, Paden admitted to working out of her home as a nursing aide at the same time as she was signing Medicaid time sheets indicating that she was receiving home health care in her residence.
Previously convicted in this same investigation were Nova Paden, Regina Brown, James Smith, Benita Bell, and Tammara Bell, who all pled guilty to making false statements to Medicaid or related charges.
"Home health care is a more convenient alternative to skilled nursing facilities and it saves tax dollars because it is less expensive," said Richard Quinn, Special Agent in Charge, FBI St. Louis Division. "People who abuse and cheat the system take money away from those who truly need the services."
Steve Hanson, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations-Kansas City Region, stated, “Our office, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to pursue those individuals who seek to defraud our programs and deprive our beneficiaries of the services they so need to ensure a good quality of life.”
Each conspiracy or false statement charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
These cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Offices of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration, and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.