Home Health Care Provider Is Sentenced To Prison For Stealing More Than $1 Million From Two Elderly Clients
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Chief U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced Lindsey Allison Kerns, 39, of Mars Hill, N.C., to 45 months in prison today, for stealing more than $1 million from two elderly clients in her care, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term imposed, Judge Reidinger ordered Kerns to serve three years under court supervision and to pay $1,088,554.99 as restitution.
Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Donald “Trey” Eakins, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), Charlotte Field Office, join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
“Most home health care providers are reputable and committed to providing quality services to older adults entrusted in their care. Kerns is not one of them,” said U.S. Attorney King. “This defendant took advantage of two vulnerable seniors, exploited their trust, and swindled them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a community, it is our responsibility to take care of our elders. And as law enforcement, it is our duty to put those who harm them behind bars.”
“Lindsey Kerns was hired to provide daily care to two elderly people. She overcharged them by a million dollars and bought trucks, ATVs, expensive clothing and went on lavish vacations. This is a case of greed and abuse of trust. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to ensure anyone who commits crimes against the elderly will face the consequences,” said Special Agent in Charge Wells.
“Senior citizens and those who care about them need to be on alert for various scams targeting elder Americans. The IRS recognizes the pervasiveness of fraud targeting older Americans, and we will work with our law enforcement partners to combat these crimes and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions,” said Brian Thomas, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of IRS-CI in Charlotte.
According to information contained in court documents and court proceedings, from December 2018 to April 2020, Kerns owned and operated Home Care Coordinators, LLC, a business that provided home health care in Buncombe and Madison Counties. Beginning in December 2018, Kerns arranged to provide home health care services to two elderly clients, identified in court documents as S.A. and P.R., who were 86 and 90 years old, respectively. The two elderly clients lived in Asheville and were close friends. P.R. also suffered from dementia and was not capable of handling his affairs. S.A. served as P.R.’s power of attorney and managed and controlled P.R.’s finances.
According to court documents, Kerns provided home health care services to S.A. and P.R. all of 2019 and into 2020. During that time, Kerns did not provide S.A. or P.R. with detailed invoices of her home health care services. Instead, Kerns orally informed S.A. on a weekly basis how much money Kerns claimed she was owed for services rendered, and S.A. wrote checks in those amounts from P.R.’s bank accounts. Over the course of the scheme, Kerns defrauded the elderly victims in a number of ways, including by overbilling them for services that were inflated or never provided; double-billing them for other services such as cleaning and moving that were either not provided or were provided by caregivers during hours already billed; and by billing at a higher rate than what Kerns and the victims had agreed upon.
According to court documents, from December 2018 through April 2020, Kerns directed S.A. to pay, and did receive, $1,465,546.99 for home health care and other services allegedly rendered by Kerns to the victims. The actual fair market value of the services provided to the victims by Kerns was $376,992. Kerns thereby overcharged S.A. and P.R. $1,088,554.99 for services that were never provided.
Kerns used the money she swindled from the victims to purchase vehicles and ATVs, to buy luxury retail items, and to pay for hotel stays and vacation rentals.
According to court records, when Kerns learned she was being investigated by the FBI and IRS, she made a number of false statements to federal agents related to her business activities. For example, Kerns lied about issuing IRS Form 1099s to her employees, lied about purchases she made using the victims’ money, and lied about additional income she received from another client. In addition, after Kerns was served with a grand jury subpoena requiring her to produce certain business records, Kerns fabricated such records and generated false invoices based on the amounts she believed she had received from S.A. and P.R. rather than providing invoices for actual services rendered.
On February 9, 2022, Kerns pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. She is currently released on bond and will be ordered to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended the FBI and IRS-CI for their investigation of this case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville handled the prosecution.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim, and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed 10am-6pm Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.