CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Richard Graves, 49, of Greensboro, N.C., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler today and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering conspiracy for his role in a scheme to obtain more than $14 million from the North Carolina Medicaid program, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Joining U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement are Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, Donald “Trey” Eakins, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, Charlotte Field Office (IRS- CI), and Attorney General Josh Stein, who oversees the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division (MID).
According to filed court documents and today’s guilty plea, Graves was an employee of United Diagnostic Laboratories (UDL), a urine toxicology testing laboratory, and United Youth Care Services (UYCS), a company that provided mental health and substance abuse treatment services. Court documents show that from January 2016 to July 2020, Graves and his co-conspirators executed a conspiracy to defraud the North Carolina Medicaid program by paying illegal kickbacks to co-conspirators in exchange for urine samples from Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries.
As Graves admitted in court today, he and his co-conspirators located recruiters to recruit at-risk youths and other Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries for after-school, youth mentoring, housing, or other programs and services. Once enrolled, the beneficiaries were required to submit urine specimens for drug testing, which were provided to UDL and UYCS for medically unnecessary urine drug testing. Graves and his co-conspirators paid the recruiters a kickback from UYCS’s NC Medicaid reimbursement on the drug testing.
In addition, Graves and his co-conspirators executed a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of the kickback and health care fraud conspiracy through Everlasting Vitality, a company owned by one of the recruiters. According to plea documents, Everlasting Vitality sent fraudulent invoices to UYCS listing the hours that the co-conspirators purportedly worked for UYCS in the prior month. The fraudulent invoices listed fake services that had not actually been provided to UYCS, including program development and design, community engagement, motivational speaking, and college mentorship services. In truth and in fact, the purpose of these invoices was to conceal and disguise the nature and source of UYCS’s illegal kickback payments for drug testing referrals.
Graves pleaded guilty today to health care fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. The health care fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $500,000 fine.
Graves was released on bond. A sentencing date has not been set.
The FBI, IRS-CI, and NC Medicaid Investigations Division are in charge of the investigation.
The prosecution for the government is handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Billings of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.