By Lance O. Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm, and George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
Edna Lorraine Watkins, the owner of Homecare Unlimited, LLC, in Jacksonville, Florida, has been sentenced to six years in prison for defrauding Medicaid, according to the Florida Office of the Attorney General (AG). She made more than $400,000 in false claims between January 2008 and June 2011. Ms. Watkins was sentenced on April 2, 2013.
Click here to read the press release from the AG.
We blogged about this case in February 2013, when Ms. Watkins was arrested. To read that previous blog, click here.
Business Owner Made False Claims and Falsified Application to be a Medicaid Provider.
The Florida Times-Union states that some of the people that Ms. Watkins claimed to have provided services for were in jail at the time she supposedly rendered the services. She is also accused of falsifying her application to become a Medicaid provider by hiding previous felony convictions and using a phony social security number, according to The Florida Times-Union.
Click here to read The Florida Times-Union article.
Defrauding Medicaid Comes with Hefty Fines and Jail Time.
On top of the six-year prison sentence, Ms. Watkins was ordered to repay the state $402,424 in restitution. She is already serving time in prison for prescription drug trafficking charges.
AG Pam Bondi said that Ms. Watkins’ sentence should send a clear message to people who defraud the Medicaid program that they will be held accountable.
Avoid a Conviction.
We have been consulted by many individuals similar to the subject of this story, both before and after criminal convictions for fraud or related offenses. In many instances, we are convinced that the person is actually not guilty of fraud. However, in many cases those subject to Medicaid or Medicare fraud audits and investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter or they decide not to spend the money required for a top quality attorney to defend them.
If you are accused of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, realize that you are in the fight of your life. Your liberty, life and profession are at stake. You need to sell everything you own, borrow everything you can and hire the absolute best criminal defense attorney available who has experience in defending such cases to represent you.
If you win and are acquitted, at least you still have a professional license and can start over.
However, if you lose, you will most probably be in prison for years. You will lose your license. You will be excluded from Medicare. You will be a convicted felon. You will have nothing and will have no way of starting over successfully.
Do not delude yourself. This is extremely serious. Be prepared to give up whatever you have if you can avoid a conviction.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicaid Audits.
Medicaid fraud is a serious crime and is vigorously investigated by the state MFCU, the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), the Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs), the FBI, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Often other state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and other law enforcement agencies participate. Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you are concerned of any possible violations and would like a confidential consultation, contact a qualified health attorney familiar with medical billing and audits today. Often Medicaid fraud criminal charges arise out of routine Medicaid audits, probe audits, or patient complaints.
The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (AFLs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
What do you think of this sentence? Was it enough or too harsh? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Meale, Jenn. “Duval County Woman Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Medicaid Fraud.” Florida Office of the Attorney General. (April 2, 2013). From: http://www.myfloridalegal.com/newsrel.nsf/newsreleases/CB377C315EFEF30485257B41006B4428
Treen, Dana. “Jacksonville Woman Sentenced in Fraud Case.” The Florida Times Union. (April 2, 2013). From: http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2013-04-02/story/jacksonville-woman-sentenced-fraud-case
About the Authors: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
Tag Words: Attorney General (AG), defense attorney, defense lawyer, Florida Aged and Disabled Adult Waiver Program, Florida defense attorney, legal defense, Medicaid, Medicaid audit, Medicaid defense attorney, Medicaid fraud, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), Medicaid fraud defense lawyer, Medicaid provider, Medicaid provider defense, Medicaid scheme
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