Cheyenne Psychologist And His Wife Sentenced To 37 Months In Prison For Health Care Fraud
John Robert Sink, Jr., 68, and Diane Marie Sink, 63, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, were sentenced on December 3, 2018, to serve 37 months in prison for making false statements as part of a scheme to fraudulently bill Wyoming Medicaid for mental health services, which were never provided, announced United States Attorney Mark A. Klaassen. The Sinks, who are married, were also ordered to pay over $6.2 million in restitution to the Wyoming Department of Health and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and to forfeit over $750,000 in assets traceable to the fraud, including cash, retirement accounts, vehicles, and a residence.
The Sinks were indicted in March 2018 by a federal grand jury for health care fraud, making false statements, and money laundering. At all times relevant to the indictment, John and Diane Sink operated a psychological practice in Cheyenne. John Sink, who was a licensed Ph.D. psychologist, directed mental health services. Diane Sink submitted bills to Wyoming Medicaid and managed the business and its employees. The Sinks provided services to developmentally disabled Medicaid beneficiaries and billed Medicaid for those services.
Between February 2012 and December 2016, the Sinks submitted bills to Wyoming Medicaid for $6.2 million in alleged group therapy. These bills were false and fraudulent because the services provided did not qualify as group therapy as defined by Wyoming Medicaid. The Sinks also falsely billed Medicaid for beneficiaries who were not participating in any activities, and therefore did not receive any of the claimed mental health services. When Wyoming Medicaid audited the Sinks in May 2016, the Sinks did not have necessary documentation to support their billing, so they ordered an employee to create backdated treatment plans. The Sinks then submitted these phony treatment plans to Wyoming Medicaid to justify the Sinks’ false group therapy bills, and to cover up their fraudulent billing scheme.
The Sinks each pled guilty to one count of making false statements in relation to health care as part of a plea agreement with the United States government. The other counts in the indictment were dismissed.
"Healthcare fraud is a serious crime that increases costs and wastes healthcare dollars on medically worthless or unnecessary activities. Fraud involving a government healthcare program, like Wyoming Medicaid, is even more serious because it wastes taxpayer dollars and reduces the program’s ability to serve needy individuals and families. We are on the lookout for this type of criminal activity, and it will not be tolerated," said U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen.
"John and Diane Sink took advantage of the government's Medicaid program by creating a deceptive health care billing schemes for personal gain, consequently passing the bill to the U.S. government and the State of Wyoming," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips. "All taxpayers and those who need Medicaid health care assistance were victimized. Today's sentencing should send the message that exploitation of our health care assistance programs for personal gain will not be tolerated and that we will continue to hold accountable those individuals who engage in health care fraud."
"Wyoming Medicaid staff, together with our partners in the Attorney General’s office, work to be good stewards of public funds," said Teri Green, Senior Administrator and Wyoming State Medicaid Agent. "Outcomes such as with this case should serve as a reminder that we take our responsibilities to serve Wyoming’s citizens seriously."
"This prosecution represents a successful partnership between state and federal law enforcement agencies to combat fraud," said Travis Kirchhefer, Director, Wyoming Attorney General's Office, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
United States District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal imposed the sentence. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Wyoming Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Heimann and Special Assistant United States Attorney Travis Kirchhefer of the Wyoming Medicaid Fraud Control Unit prosecuted the case.
Suspected fraud against Medicaid or Medicare can be reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) and the agency’s website https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud/. Wyoming residents can call the Wyoming Medicaid Fraud Control Unit toll free at 1-800-378-0345, or visit their website at http://ag.wyo.gov/medicaid-fraud-control-unit.