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Press Release

Former Director Of Detox Center Convicted Of Health Care Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Louisiana

BATON ROUGE – United States Attorney Walt Green announced the conviction of SHANTA R. BARNES, age 49, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for health care fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Earlier today, BARNES appeared before U.S. District Judge James J. Brady and pled guilty.  BARNES also admitted to the forfeiture allegations contained in the Indictment, which was previously returned by a federal grand jury.

According to court documents, BARNES served as the program director of an in-patient drug rehabilitation and detoxification treatment center in Baton Rouge known as Louisiana Health and Rehabilitation Options.  As program director, BARNES had access to patients’ personal identifying information, including their dates of birth and Medicaid identification numbers.  Through her scheme, BARNES unlawfully enriched herself by using patients’ information, without their knowledge or authorization, to fraudulently obtain powerful narcotic drugs, which she then diverted for her own benefit.  By obtaining fraudulent prescriptions in the names of Medicaid recipients and causing the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicaid, BARNES drastically reduced her out-of-pocket costs.  As a result of her scheme, BARNES obtained almost 6,000 80-mg oxycodone pills over a period of less than one year.

U.S. Attorney Green stated, “Today’s conviction is the latest example of my office’s commitment to combating health care fraud and drug diversion.  This defendant abused her position of trust within a community health care provider and took unlawful advantage of her access to patient records in order to generate and fill dozens of fraudulent prescriptions for powerful and addictive controlled substances.  In these types of cases, the defendant lines his or her pockets while fueling others’ painful addictions to controlled substances, attempting to hide criminal conduct behind the guise of being a medical professional.  Not only is a serious federal crime, but these schemes are a disservice to the vast majority of medical professionals who are honest and committed to quality patient care.  I appreciate all of the hard work and assistance my office has received in this investigation from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and our state partners.”

“Prescription drug abuse is an extremely serious problem, not just in Louisiana, but nationwide,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Shepherd.  “DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate professionals in the medical field who operate as drug peddlers.  Those persons who disregard their ethical and legal obligations while dispensing pharmaceuticals will be forced to bear the consequences of their actions.”

CJ Porter, the Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Regional Office for the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General - Investigations, stated:  “Prescription drug fraud schemes are rampant, and often include medical identity theft.  The criminal prosecution of this defendant, and those like her who are involved in these types of schemes, is an example of our ongoing efforts to address the national prescription drug crisis”

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Inspector General and the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cam T. Le and Jessica M.P. Thornhill.

Updated September 4, 2015

Health Care Fraud