Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven has sentenced Ilfrenise Charlemagne (68, Coral Gables) to 33 months in federal prison for wire fraud. She pleaded guilty on November 8, 2016.
According to court documents, starting in 2008, Charlemagne owned and operated Hilcrest Residential ALF, an assisted living facility in St. Petersburg for the aged and mentally ill. The majority of the funds used to operate Hilcrest came from the Medicaid and Social Security benefits of the residents. In May 2011, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) forcibly closed Hilcrest after determining that the facility was heavily infested with bedbugs and roaches; that residents were found to be unkempt with evidence of confusion and disassociation; that residents were hungry and underfed; that Charlemagne failed to provide residents with a safe and sanitary living environment; and that residents were at risk of serious injury and major health problems. In October 2011, Charlemagne entered into a settlement agreement with AHCA promising not to own or operate an ALF for a period of five years.
That same month, Charlemagne changed Hilcrest’s name to Pleasant Alternative and began the process of reopening. She applied to AHCA for a license to operate an ALF using the identity of a straw owner. In 2012, Charlemagne reopened the ALF at the same location and again began housing Medicaid and Social Security beneficiaries who were primarily mentally ill adults. By April 2013, AHCA again shut down the facility, finding that was no heat or air conditioning; that residents weren’t provided with adequate medication or food; that rodents, vermin, and debris were found throughout the facility; and that the facility posed a serious and immediate danger to the residents and the public. During her time operating the ALFs, Charlemagne diverted the more than $1 million in government benefits intended for the care and housing of her residents. She used some of the monies for her own personal use, including cash withdrawals, credit card payments, car payments, and rent, among other things.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General, the State of Florida Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the Social Security Administration - Office of the Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mandy Riedel and Megan Kistler.