Mount Carmel Woman Charged with Health Care Fraud
HARRISBURG, PA—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Mount Carmel woman was indicted yesterday by a grand jury in Harrisburg on charges related to health care fraud.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Joan Cicchiello, age 64, of Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, the owner and operator of Twilight Beginnings, a psychiatric and counseling practice, was charged with one count of health care fraud and 14 counts of making false written statements and writings to obtain Medicare payments.
According to the indictment, between May 2010 and the present, Cicchiello’s business contracted with skilled nursing facilities in Adams, Dauphin, York, Franklin, Schuylkill, Lancaster and Northumberland Counties to provide mental health services to residents.
The indictment alleges that Cicchiello, a certified registered nurse practitioner, employed at least four individuals who did not meet Medicare licensing requirements for the provision of mental health services. Services were allegedly provided by the individuals but false claims for payment were submitted to Medicare indicating that Cicchiello had provided the services and were paid on that basis.
Cicchiello fraudulently obtained on-line certification in pastoral counseling for workers, falsely stated on applications for renewal of her license that she had never been convicted of any felony and misdemeanor offenses, and submitted false claims to Medicare stating she had provided medical or counseling services on dates when she was on vacation or actually traveling outside the United States.
The indictment also contains an allegation by the government seeking forfeiture of property derived from the offenses.
The case was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy H. Fawcett is the assigned prosecutor.
An indictment is only an allegation. The person charged in the indictment is presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum sentence for the offense of health care fraud is 20 years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. Each count of making false writings and statements in connection with a health care matter carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a three-year term of supervised release. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.