More Arrests in Medi-Cal|Youth Rehab Fraud Scheme

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Eight people have been indicted on charges of defrauding a California program that funds substance-abuse treatment to young people to the tune of over $50 million, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
     The 40-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on Aug. 26 includes charges of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. Six of the eight defendants were arrested Wednesday morning, and the other two are expected to surrender to authorities in the coming weeks, prosecutors said.
     According to the 23-page indictment, Long Beach-based Atlantic Health Services – formerly known as Atlantic Recovery Services or ARS – received more than $46 million from California’s Drug Medi-Cal program after submitting false and fraudulent claims for group and individual substance-abuse counseling services.
     In many cases, ARS billed for services to middle school and high school students that did not have drug or alcohol problems or for services that weren’t provided at all, the Justice Department said.
     “The defendants named in the indictment are accused of exploiting a program that was set up to help a particularly vulnerable population – young people who are confronting drug and alcohol abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker. “According to the indictment, ARS and its employees engaged in a long-running fraud scheme to steal tens of millions of dollars from a program with limited resources that was designed to help underprivileged youth in recovery. In the process, the defendants and ARS branded many innocent young people as substance abusers and addicts in order to boost enrollment numbers and billings.”
     Named defendants include Lori Renee Miller, 54, the program manager at ARS who supervised recovery managers and counselors; Nguyet Galaz, 41, who oversaw services at 11 schools in LA County; Angela Frances Micklo, 56, who managed counselors at nine schools in LA County; Maribel Navarro, 48, who managed counselors at 10 schools in LA County; Carrenda Jeffrey, 64, LaLonnie Egans, 57, and Shyrie Womack, 33, who each managed counselors at three schools; and Tina Lynn St. Julian, 51, who managed counselors at two schools.
     Another dozen defendants have already pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing, the Justice Department said.
     The eight charged on Wednesday could face “decades in federal prison” if convicted, prosecutors said.

%d bloggers like this: