RALEIGH, N.C. – Lakia Lateefah Washington, 39, who fraudulently claimed to provide counseling services to fake patients, including an unborn child, pled guilty to defrauding North Carolina Medicaid. Washington faces up to 10 years in prison and a potential fine.
“This defendant stole money from a taxpayer-funded program intended to help individuals and families cover essential healthcare,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “My office will continue to investigate and prosecute these cases of fraud.”
According to the information and evidence summarized in court, Washington was a licensed mental health counselor registered with North Carolina Medicaid (“Medicaid”) since 2015. Through her business, L.W. Therapeutics & Consulting, LLC, Washington began fraudulently billing Medicaid as early as January 2018. Washington received names, dates of birth and/or Medicaid beneficiary numbers of Medicaid beneficiaries for which she paid a small finder’s fee. Washington would then use that beneficiary data to fraudulently submit claims to Medicaid for services never rendered. In egregious examples, Washington fraudulently billed Medicaid for over 24 one-hour mental health appointments in a single day; and billed Medicaid for in-person services rendered in disparate locations in Eastern North Carolina within close temporal proximity. In another instance, Washington submitted claims for services rendered to an unborn beneficiary still in utero at the time of the purported service being rendered. In total, Washington’s actions led to the disbursement of over $800,000 by Medicaid from 2018 to 2020.
“This person defrauded Medicaid of money that should have gone to people’s health care,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. “My office will continue to hold people responsible when they cheat taxpayers.”
“Those who fraudulently bill Medicaid for services never actually provided threaten the integrity of this important safety net program, which is designed to provide medically necessary services to some of the most vulnerable individuals in our country,” said Special Agent in Charge Tamala E. Miles of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. “Working closely with our law enforcement partners, our agency continues to thoroughly investigate such fraud schemes and hold scammers accountable for their actions.”
The Center for Medicaid Services, within the federal Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for overseeing the Medicaid program in North Carolina, which has been administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services since 1978. Medicaid providers are assigned a National Provider Identifier, which they use to submit claims for reimbursement for services rendered to Medicaid beneficiaries.
Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle accepted the plea. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, is leading the investigation with the assistance North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David G. Beraka is prosecuting the case.
Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case Nos. 5:23-cr-00065-BO.