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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Charlotte Man Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For $2 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

Defendant Filed Fraudulent Reimbursement Claims Using Stolen Information of Medicaid Recipients with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced today that Eric Bernard Mitchell, 44, of Charlotte, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for defrauding Medicaid of over $2 million.  U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. also ordered Mitchell to serve one year under court supervision and to pay $ 2,049,932.12 as restitution to Medicaid.  Mitchell pleaded guilty October 2015 to health care fraud and money laundering charges. 

U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division (MID), Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General for the region including North Carolina, and Thomas J. Holloman III, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI).

According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, from about 2007 to about 2009, Mitchell co-owned and operated Angelic Community and Family Services, L.P. (Angelic), which provided alternative care in a non-institutional setting to Medicaid recipients with intellectual/developmental disabilities.  Angelic later became defunct, and in 2009, Mitchell assisted in the creation of another company, identified in court documents as “Company #1,” which provided the same type of services as Angelic.  Mitchell operated significant portions of Company #1’s business and had exclusive control of the company’s bank accounts.  According to court records, both Angelic and Company #1 were approved by Medicaid to provide such services to beneficiaries and to receive reimbursement from the government program.

Court records show that that from about October 2009 to about June 2014, Mitchell submitted fraudulent claims to Medicaid on behalf of Company #1, seeking reimbursement for services which were never provided to beneficiaries with developmental disabilities.  According to court records, Mitchell submitted the fraudulent claims using the Medicaid beneficiary information of former clients of Angelic, who Mitchell knew were approved to receive such services.  Over the course of the scheme, Mitchell submitted at least $2.5 million in fraudulent claims using the beneficiaries’ stolen information and to receiving over $2 million in payments from Medicaid. 

According to court records, Medicaid directed payments for Company #1’s reimbursement claims, including the fraudulent ones, to multiple bank accounts exclusively controlled by Mitchell.  Over the course of the conspiracy, Mitchell used portions of the Medicaid funds to cover personal expenses, including to make multiple car payments to a Mercedes dealer and to pay for various car repair services.  

Mitchell will be ordered to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his sentence upon designation of a federal facility.  All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The investigation was handled by HHS-OIG, IRS-CI and MID.   Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelli Ferry of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is prosecuting the case.

The investigation and charges are the work of the Western District’s joint Health Care Fraud Task Force.  The Task Force is multi-agency team of experienced federal and state investigators, working in conjunction with criminal and civil Assistant United States Attorneys, dedicated to identifying and prosecuting those who defraud the health care system, and reducing the potential for health care fraud in the future. The Task Force focuses on the coordination of cases, information sharing, identification of trends in health care fraud throughout the region, staffing  of  all  whistle  blower  complaints,  and  the  creation  of  investigative  teams  so  that individual agencies may focus their unique areas of expertise on investigations.  The Task Force builds upon existing partnerships between the agencies and its work reflects a heightened effort to reduce fraud and recover taxpayer dollars.

If you suspect Medicare fraud please report it by phone at 1-800-447-8477 (1-800-HHS-TIPS), or E-Mail at HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.  To report Medicaid fraud in North Carolina, call the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division at 919-881-2320.

Updated March 15, 2016