DALLAS (CN) – An elderly married couple in Plano pleaded guilty to defrauding Medicaid of $1.8 million: some of it by stealing Social Security numbers from federal inmates and using them as “ghost employees” for their mental health company, New Horizons.
Joanna Jones Ellis Kemp, 68, and her husband, Peter A. Kemp, 67, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit false statements in health care. They both face up to 5 years in prison, restitution and a $250,000 fine.
Joanna Kemp is a licensed psychologist and she and her husband were general partners and operators of New Horizons. New Horizons operated three care facilities for mentally retarded people or people with similar conditions, such as cerebral palsy, in Granbury and Benbrook, Texas.
The Kemps admitted they conspired to defraud Medicaid for 11 years.
Joanna was a contract employee at the federal prison in Seagoville. There, she swiped the names and Social Security numbers of at least 12 inmates and/or other people and used them to create ghost workers for New Horizons, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in announcing their plea.
They deposited the ghost workers’ paychecks in bank accounts that they never revealed to their accountant, after Joanna forged the ghost workers’ signatures, prosecutors said. Then they took the money for themselves.
Joanna also submitted false Medicaid claims for at least 10 New Horizon residents who never got the services, prosecutors said.