Employees of Local Medicaid Agency Found Guilty of Federal Conspiracy Charges, Heath Care Offenses, and Making False Statements to Federal Agents
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 09, 2009|
NEW ORLEANS, LA—UNA FAVORITE BROWN, age 53, a resident of New Orleans; MELINDA LANGLEY, age 48, a resident of New Orleans; and ERNESTINE GIROD, age 44, a resident of Marrero, were found guilty today by a New Orleans jury of conspiracy and multiple counts of health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.
Specifically, BROWN was convicted as charged of one count of conspiracy, twenty-four (24) counts of health care fraud, and three (3) counts of false statements to federal law enforcement agents; GIROD was convicted as charged of one count of conspiracy, twenty-five (25) counts of health care fraud, and three (3) counts of false statements to federal law enforcement agents; and LANGLEY was convicted of one count of conspiracy and ten (10) counts of health care fraud. LANGLEY was found not guilty of three (3) counts of health care fraud.
According to evidence introduced at trial, AKASIA LEE was the owner and operator of A New Beginning of New Orleans, Inc. (ANBNO), a Medicaid Provider located in Harvey, Louisiana that made claims for Personal Care Services it claimed to have provided to Medicaid recipients. UNA FAVORITE BROWN and MELINDA LANGLEY were employees of ANBNO, and ERNESTINE GIROD was the mother of Medicaid recipients.
Personal Care Services (PCS) are Medicaid services provided by attendants to eligible recipients meeting the medical necessity criteria who are unable to care for themselves. ANBNO solicited mothers with children who had Medicaid benefits to apply for PCS. Medicaid approved the PCS applications, which were false documentations containing employees’ time sheets and daily schedules which detailed the services rendered to Medicaid child recipients created by employees of ANBNO and parents of the Medicaid recipient children. From the time of the inception of ANBNO through May 4, 2005, Medicaid paid approximately $3,977,288 as a result of the fraudulent claims made by ANBNO and its employees.
MELINDA LANGLEY faces up to one-hundred-five (105) years in prison and fines of up to $2.75 million. UNA FAVORITE BROWN faces up to one-hundred-twenty (120) years in prison and fines of up to $3.5 million. ERNESTINE GIROD faces up to two-hundred-seventy (270) years in prison and fines of up to $7,250,000. The U.S. Attorney reminds citizens that the statutory maximum penalties notwithstanding, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, although not mandatory, still remain advisory in the fashioning of sentences by the Court.
Speaking to these developments, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten stated: “Today’s convictions send a clear and unambiguous signal that we in federal law enforcement will aggressively pursue those who enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers and those among us (including our children) who desperately need publicly funded health care. My thanks to the prosecution team, FBI, HHS Inspector General, and Louisiana Attorney General’s Medicare Fraud Control Unit.”
Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigators, stated: “Today’s action sends a message to those who take advantage of the Louisiana Medicaid Program. The Office of Inspector General, Dallas Regional Office will continue to work aggressively with our federal and state law enforcement partners to eliminate this type of fraudulent conduct in our health care systems.”
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell added: “I applaud the efforts of not only my Medicaid Fraud unit but every agency involved. To each individual who worked tirelessly to bring these people to justice, I thank you. I pledge that my office will continue to work with all local, state and federal entities to stop the abuse of our Medicaid system.”
This investigation, which is continuing, is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Louisiana Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Patrice Harris Sullivan, Jordan Ginsberg and G. Dall Kammer.