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Press Release

Former physician's assistant sentenced for health care fraud after posing as a licensed practitioner

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Georgia

ATLANTA - Theresa Pickering has been sentenced to federal prison for committing health care fraud by posing as a licensed physician’s assistant, which resulted in approximately $147,000 in attempted losses to insurers.

“Pickering previously served prison time for similar conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.  “Then in blatant disregard for the law and safety, she knowingly placed patients at significant risk by again posing as a licensed medical provider.”

“Pickering did not learn from her previous fraud conviction. Instead, she chose to continue to endanger patient lives through theft and lies,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This sentence will serve as a reminder to others that the FBI will not tolerate healthcare providers who engage in schemes that defraud the industry and put innocent patients at risk.”

"This individual egregiously lied about her qualifications to obtain access to patient information, which she then used to steal from federal health care programs," said Tamala Miles, Special Agent in Charge with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). "HHS-OIG is proud to work alongside our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who put patients at risk and undermine the integrity of federal health care programs."

“At OPM OIG, our number one priority is protecting patients from harm,” said Conrad J. Quarles, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, OPM OIG. “This sentencing demonstrates our commitment to working with our Federal partners to hold accountable those that would seek to put the safety of Federal health care enrollees at risk.” 

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges, and other information presented in court:  On or about September 24, 2019, Pickering was hired as a licensed physician’s assistant at a family practice in Norcross, Georgia. But Pickering was not a licensed physician’s assistant in Georgia at that time, nor had she been a licensed physician’s assistant in any state since March 2014.  After Pickering served a prison sentence for a 2015 fraud and narcotics case related to her illegal practice as a physician’s assistant in the State of Mississippi, Pickering relocated to Georgia and again obtained employment as a licensed physician’s assistant at the Norcross-based family practice. 

While employed at the practice, Pickering treated patients, diagnosed illnesses, ordered diagnostic tests and lab work, and handled sick visits and prescribed drugs to patients – none of which was authorized by law based on her lack of licensure and exclusion from federal health care programs.  Pickering also issued prescriptions, including prescriptions for controlled substances, in the name of Doctor 1, a physician contracted by the practice, and without Doctor 1’s permission.  Pickering caused the practice to submit at least approximately $147,000 in fraudulent claims for reimbursement to Medicare and numerous private insurance companies.

Theresa Pickering, 55, of Norcross, Georgia, was sentenced on April 18, 2023, to two years, nine months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $48,742.30.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David A. O'Neal prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

Updated April 18, 2023

Health Care Fraud