Virginia Beach Man Indicted in Major Health Care Fraud of Virginia Medical Assistance Program
NORFOLK, VA—Baffour E. Opoku, owner and operator of Progressive Counseling Services, LLC, a Virginia Beach based counseling business, and nine other current and former employees were indicted on Wednesday by a federal grand jury for their alleged roles in a scheme to defraud the Virginia Medical Assistance Program. Court documents were unsealed today.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Mark R. Herring, Virginia Attorney General; Royce E. Curtin, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington; Thomas J. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Bill Jones, Special Agent in Charge for the Washington Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General—Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, made the announcement after the defendants made their initial appearances in federal court this afternoon.
The nine of the ten defendants were arrested today, and are currently awaiting further proceedings. The defendants are: Baffour E. Opoku, 48, of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Doretha Selby-Diggs, 40, of Portsmouth, Virginia; Lisa Barrett, 49, of Norfolk; Barbara Bing Banks, 34, of Hampton, Virginia; Corey Etheridge, 42, of Chesapeake, Virginia; Jacqueline Harris, 34, of Portsmouth; Verline Harris, 48, of Virginia Beach; Arlette Johnson, 58, of Virginia Beach; Alfreda Stallion, 52, of Virginia Beach; and Johnny Stallion, 34, of Las Vegas, Nevada.
According to the 105 count indictment, the defendants conspired to obtain reimbursement payments from the Virginia Medical Assistance Program by submitting false claims for mental health support services in 2011 and 2012. Opoku owned and operated Progressive Counseling Services, LLC. He hired the other nine defendants to provide mental health support services to Medicaid-eligible clients in the Tidewater area. According to the indictment, Opoku, along with an unindicted co-conspirator, created fraudulent assessments of Progressive clients to obtain authorization to bill Medicaid for mental health support services. Once Progressive obtained this authorization, Opoku submitted false and fraudulent Medicaid reimbursement claims on behalf of mental health support services purportedly provided by the co-defendants. The indictment alleges these reimbursement claims were bogus because most of the counselors were unqualified to serve as mental health professionals, the counseling sessions never occurred, and progress notes used to document the sessions were fabricated.
In addition, Opoku faces charges that he failed to report nearly $450,000 in taxable income to the IRS over two tax years and that Opoku, along with Doretha Selby-Diggs and Corey Etheridge, submitted false documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security, with respect to a pending immigration matter.
The indictment further alleges that Lisa Barrett, Barbara Bing, Jacqueline Harris, and Arlette Johnson testified falsely before a federal grand jury that was investigating this matter.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); IRS-Criminal Investigation; and the Department of Labor, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph L. Kosky and V. Kathleen Dougherty are prosecuting the case.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:14-CR-137.