Former Clinic Owner Sentenced for Role in $3.4 Million Medicaid Fraud Scheme
CHARLOTTE, NC—Ronnie Lorenzo Robinson, 37, of Charlotte, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for his role in a $3.4 million Medicaid fraud scheme involving sham mental and behavioral health services, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Chief U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney also ordered Robinson to serve three years under court supervision and to pay $3,153,074 in restitution to Medicaid.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division and Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division (MID).
According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, from in 2007 to 2011, Robinson engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicaid of at least $3.4 million in fraudulent reimbursement claims submitted to Medicaid. Court records show that Robinson owned and operated Peaceful Alternative Resources, Inc. (PAR), a purported non-profit Medicaid-approved company providing mental health and mentoring services with offices in Charlotte, Mooresville and Greensboro, N.C. Robinson and PAR defrauded Medicaid by submitting false reimbursements to the government program for bogus mental health services. Contrary to the submitted claims, the claimed services were either provided by unlicensed, non-Medicaid approved individuals, or were never provided at all.
According to filed documents, Robinson submitted the fraudulent reimbursement claims using the Medicaid provider numbers of at least three licensed clinicians who had performed some work for PAR. Court records indicate that these clinicians never provided the claimed services and were not aware that Robinson was submitting the false claims using their provider numbers. Court documents also indicate that Robinson obtained Medicaid beneficiary information from other organizations and used that information to submit claims for the made-up services. According to court documents, that Robinson submitted claims to Medicaid totaling approximately $3.4 million and received approximately $3.1 million in payments. Robinson pleaded guilty in January 2014 to two counts of health care fraud.
Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized a 2004 Land Rover Range Rover HSE, a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban, a 2007 Mercedes S550 and a 1 5/8 carat oval ladies diamond ring, purchased with money fraudulently obtained from Medicaid. Agents also seized a classic 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle-Malibu, a 2006 Chrysler 300 and approximately $660,000 in funds in connection with the fraud.
Robinson will report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his sentence upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
Two social workers, formerly employed by the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS), who provided Robinson the Medicaid beneficiary information of DSS clients, have already pleaded guilty to health care fraud charges. Ieshia Hicks Watkins pleaded guilty in October 2014 to one count of health care fraud conspiracy and one count of receiving illegal kickbacks.
Ryce Edward Hatchett pleaded guilty on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, to one count of receiving illegal kickbacks. Both defendants await sentencing.
The investigation into Robinson was handled by the FBI and MID. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelli Ferry of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.
The investigation and charges are the work of the Western District’s joint Health Care Fraud Task Force. The Task Force is multi-agency team of experienced federal and state investigators, working in conjunction with criminal and civil Assistant United States Attorneys, dedicated to identifying and prosecuting those who defraud the health care system, and reducing the potential for health care fraud in the future. The Task Force focuses on the coordination of cases, information sharing, identification of trends in health care fraud throughout the region, staffing of all whistle blower complaints, and the creation of investigative teams so that individual agencies may focus their unique areas of expertise on investigations. The Task Force builds upon existing partnerships between the agencies and its work reflects a heightened effort to reduce fraud and recover taxpayer dollars.
If you suspect Medicare fraud please report it by phone at 1-800-447-8477 (1-800-HHSTIPS), or E-Mail at HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov. To report Medicaid fraud in North Carolina, call the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division at 919-881-2320.