ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Twin Cities woman and her daughter stand charged in an alleged scheme to bilk Medical Assistance of nearly $1 million through their home health care agency, just a small part of a wide-reaching national crackdown on health care fraud announced Thursday.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson made the announcement of the charges against the owners of Your Way Home Care Inc. as part of the National Health Care Fraud Takedown, an initiative that resulted in 400 people being criminally charged. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the cases accounted for more than $1.3 billion in fraudulent transactions, and at least 120 suspects were involved in opioid-related crimes, making it also the largest-ever opioid-related fraud takedown.
The charges filed by AG Swanson against 54-year-old Juanita Yvette Swain and her 33-year-old daughter, Aretina Tiaira Williams, allege that the two billed Medical Assistance for personal care services that were never rendered, including $200,000 for a mother and her three children, who are friends of the defendants. The criminal complaint alleges that the mother was paid kickbacks for being part of the scheme.
Another allegation involves billing for an employee that never even worked for the service, and the work he supposedly did was for a client who was actually incarcerated at the time. Investigators say $56,000 was billed out for alleged services to care for two minor children by a man who was living in Illinois, who told authorities he did not perform the work.
"Medical Assistance provides an important health care safety net," Swanson said in a released statement, "and it is an affront to taxpayers when agencies bilk the system for their own personal gain."
Earlier this week Swanson filed a nine-count criminal complaint against Swain's cousin Lillian Richardson and six accomplices, who allegedly cheated Medical Assistance out of $7.7 million. Authorities say Richardson used family members and associates to set up five new home health care agencies which were used to submit the fraudulent invoices. She is accused of being the mastermind and running them from behind the scenes, since Richardson was previously convicted of Medical Assistance Fraud in 2012.
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said the national operation involved 29 bureau field offices around the country and more than 300 agents.