During an Oct. 10 press conference, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced that law enforcement agencies from two states had arrested 18 people in connection with a Medicaid fraud scheme. Deputies from the Clay County and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Offices in Florida and officers from the Columbus Police Department in Georgia are still seeking two individuals linked to a scheme that officials claim bilked taxpayers out of about $5 million.
Medical transportation service
Detectives from the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit believe the man who organized the scheme operated a medical transportation company that provided non-emergency services to Medicaid recipients. He and his codefendants allegedly submitted thousands of bills to Florida Medicaid for trips that were never made and inflated the mileage of trips that actually were made. When detectives checked the medical transportation company’s GPS data, they discovered that drivers were frequently on vacation or at home when the submitted bills claimed they were making trips.
Health care fraud
The penalties for health care fraud are harsh in Florida. The 18 people who were arrested and the two individuals still being sought by law enforcement are all charged with being involved in a scheme to defraud more than $50,000, and nine of them also face racketeering charges. When the amount of fraud exceeds $50,000 in Florida, offenders face first-degree felony charges that carry a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
The Medicaid bills, financial records and GPS data described by the attorney general during her press conference will all provide prosecutors with compelling evidence. When defendants face long prison sentences and the evidence against them seems overwhelming, they usually agree to forgo their right to a trial and plead guilty in return for more lenient treatment.