Six Home Healthcare Workers and Patients Charged with Billing Medicaid while Working other Jobs, Going on a Cruise, and Gambling
St. Louis, MO – Six area home health care workers and patients were charged with making false statements to Medicaid regarding home healthcare services that were neither received nor provided. All of the Indictments involve allegations that the defendants made false statements in Medicaid timesheets that certain patients and workers provided or received personal care services (e.g. grooming, cleaning, feeding, and medication assistance) in the home setting during certain dates and times when, in reality, the patients or workers were actually somewhere else.
Regina Brown, 58, and James Smith, 75, both of St. Louis, Missouri, were charged by Indictment with three felony counts making false statements to Medicaid that Brown received Medicaid-funded home health care from Smith at Brown’s home. In reality, Brown was actually vacationing in New Orleans and on a cruise ship during the dates indicated on their Medicaid timesheets.
Benita Bell, 46, and Tammara Bell, 28, of St. Louis, Missouri, were charged with making four false statements to Medicaid that Benita Bell was receiving Medicaid-funded home health care during timeframes when Benita Bell was actually gambling at local casino or working as a caregiver providing others with health care and personal care services.
Finally, Nova Paden, 50, and Demagio Smith, 27, both of St. Louis, Missouri, were charged by Indictment with making five felony counts of making false statements to Medicaid. The Indictment alleges that both Paden and Smith were working at other jobs during timeframes when they were falsely claiming to be receiving or providing Medicaid-funded home health care at Paden’s home. The Indictment also alleges that Smith was in New Jersey and California during some of the days that he and Paden claimed to be receiving or providing home health care.
Finally, Paden’s Indictment further alleges that Paden previously filed for disability payments from the Social Security Administration but failed to report income from her jobs, and therefore stole money from the Government that she was not entitled to receive. Five of the six defendants recently appeared in federal court for their initial appearances.
"Home health care is not only a more convenient alternative to skilled nursing facilities, it also saves tax dollars because it is less expensive," said William Woods, Special Agent in Charge, FBI St. Louis Division. "People who abuse and cheat the system siphon 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 false statement charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. The theft of government property charge carries a maximum penalty of ten 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.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.