Former Community Health Clinic CFO Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Defraud Millions from Government
BIRMINGHAM -- The former financial officer of two non-profit health clinics in Alabama for the poor and homeless pleaded guilty today to multiple federal charges related to a scheme to defraud millions of dollars from the clinics and the federal government health agencies that provide most of their funding.
TERRI McGUIRE MOLLICA, 48, of Birmingham entered her plea before U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre. She is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 11. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger C. Stanton, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Atlanta Regional Office Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, announced Mollica's guilty plea.
As part of the plea, she must voluntarily forfeit $938,211 that the government seized last year from her investment and credit union accounts. Mollica acknowledged those funds are proceeds of illegal activity.
A federal grand jury indicted Mollica late last year on 74 counts related to the scheme to defraud the government through the two health care clinics, Birmingham Health Care and Central Alabama Comprehensive Health Inc., five counts of filing false tax returns, and three counts related to her scheme to defraud a life insurance company.
Mollica pleaded guilty to 19 counts related to the fraud against the government -- six counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, eight counts of mail fraud affecting a financial institution and five counts of money laundering. She pleaded guilty to four counts of filing false tax returns and to one count of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft related to the insurance fraud.
Mollica's crimes, as outlined in court records, are as follows:
Mollica was the chief financial officer of the non-profit Birmingham Health Care from April 2005 through November 2008. She also performed fiscal duties for Central Alabama Comprehensive Health Inc. CACH is a non-profit clinic in Tuskegee intended to provide primary and preventative health care to people in east Alabama, regardless of their ability to pay. BHC's chief executive officer served for a time as the chief executive officer of the Tuskegee clinic and, in 2008, BHC took over fiscal responsibility of CACH.
Between January 2008 and March 2012, Mollica aided others in diverting about $11 million in federal grant money, assets and property of BHC and CACH to numerous private entities using "Synergy" in the name. Mollica and others retained authority over the affairs of BHC and CACH as they operated the Synergy entities. Mollica then conducted financial transactions to transfer money from the private entities to herself and others, illegally receiving about $1.7 million through the scheme.
BHC began receiving grants from the Health Resources and Human Services Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 20 years ago. Federal grants administered by HRSA and HHS constitute the overwhelming majority of BHC and CACH funding.
Mollica and others misrepresented and concealed information from HRSA to ensure the agency would continue to grant money to the Birmingham and Tuskegee community health clinics.
The maximum penalties for the offenses charged are as follows:
- mail fraud related to the health clinics, 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine;
- mail fraud related to insurance fraud, 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine;
- wire fraud, 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine;
- money laundering (counts 56, 60 & 68), 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, or twice the value of the property involved;
- money laundering (counts 70 -73) involving criminally derived property valued at more than $10,000, 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine;
- aggravated identity theft, mandatory two years in prison added to any sentence imposed for the underlying felony and a $250,000 fine;
- filing a false tax return, three years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The FBI, IRS and HHS-OIG investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tamarra Matthews Johnson and Melissa Kay Atwood are prosecuting the case.