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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 4, 2017

Third Member of Healthcare Conspiracy Pleads Guilty

Deborah Branch Pleads Guilty to Two Federal Charges

Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A Bristol woman, who along with a husband and wife were accused of healthcare fraud, pled guilty today to related charges, Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Nick DiGiulio, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Regional Office for U.S. Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General announced today.

 

Deborah Branch, 65, of Bristol, Va., pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of wire fraud. Previously, Bryan Harr Sr. and Melissa Harr, pled guilty to related charges for their roles in the conspiracy. Branch will be sentenced on July 13, 2017 at 10 a.m.

 

According to evidence presented at today’s guilty plea hearing, Bryan Harr Sr. and his wife, Melissa Harr, hired Branch to work with one of their children, who suffers from intellectual and physical disabilities and who qualifies for services paid for by Virginia Medicaid, including personal assistance, respite and residential support services. These services are available to qualified individuals pursuant to Virginia Medicaid’s Intellectual Disability (ID) waiver program. The ID waiver program is designed to provide critical services that enable a recipient to remain at home instead of being placed in an institution. Recipients or their guardians are permitted to hire workers of their own choosing to provide these services which are paid for by Virginia Medicaid. Branch was paid through two different Virginia Medicaid contractors: Public Partnerships, LLC and ResCare (formerly known as Creative Family Solutions).

 

From January 2010 until September 2015, Branch, with the knowledge of Melissa Harr and Bryan Harr Sr., submitted time sheets claiming Branch was providing services for Harr’s disabled son when she was not. In exchange for assisting Branch in being paid for work she did not do, Branch paid the Harrs approximately $200 every two weeks. Virginia Medicaid’s Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) paid out $350,641.02 to the contractors based on these time sheets, of which $207,854.43 was paid to Branch. More importantly, the Harr’s disabled son did not receive the services he legitimately needed pursuant to the ID waiver program.

 

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the Bristol Virginia Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Janine M. Myatt, a Virginia Assistant Attorney General, is prosecuting the case for the United States.

Updated May 4, 2017