A Charlotte counselor was arrested this week, accused in a scheme that defrauded Medicaid of at least $650,000.
The U.S. Attorneys Office said Charlotte Elizabeth Garnes, a 37-year-old licensed counselor, rented out her Medicaid provider number, allowing others to file for Medicaid reimbursement claims for mental and behavior health services that were never performed.
Garnes was arrested Wednesday in Goldsboro and charged with health care fraud conspiracy and obstruction of official proceedings. If convicted of both charges, she could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Between March 2009 and April 2011, Garnes conspired with two women Teresa Marible and Michele Jackson to allow Marible and Jackson to submit the fraudulent claims through Garnes company, Charlottes Insight, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said Garnes kept a percentage of the Medicaid reimbursements received for those claims, which listed her as the attending clinician.
At one point in 2009, Garnes represented that she provided 69 hours of mental and behavior health services in one day, according to the indictment. At another point, claims were filed to Medicaid for services rendered during a time when Garnes wasnt in the country. She worked for a defense contractor at military bases, prosecutors said.
In all, Medicaid paid Garnes and her co-conspirators more than $650,000 in fraudulent claims, according to the indictment.
Marible and Jackson, neither of whom was licensed to provide mental or behavioral health services, have been convicted, prosecutors said. In March, Jackson was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $292,282 in restitution. In June, Marible was sentenced to three years and ordered to pay $1,135,662.
Earlier this month, another woman pleaded guilty to her role in an similar scheme with Garnes, Marible and Jackson.
Oriaku Hampton Sowell, 39, of Charlotte also rented out her Medicaid provider number, prosecutors alleged. Fraudulent claims listed Sowell as the attending clinician but services were never provided. Sowell kept part of the fraudulent reimbursements and paid the remainder to Jackson and Marible. Between October 2010 and April 2011, they collected at least $250,000 from Medicaid.
Anyone who suspects Medicare or Medicaid fraud is asked to call 1-800-447-8477 or email at HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.