A Charlotte woman has been sentenced to five years in prison for her role in what federal prosecutors say was a Medicaid fraud scheme.
Prosecutors alleged Charlotte Elizabeth Garnes had cheated Medicaid of $650,000.
Garnes, 39, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Charlotte. She had been convicted by a jury in February on charges of health care fraud conspiracy, obstruction of official proceedings and false statements relating to health care matters.
As part of her sentence, Garnes was ordered to pay $792,184.52 in restitution and will be under court supervision for two years after her release from prison.
Prosecutors said Garnes, a licensed counselor, was approved by Medicaid to provide mental and behavioral health services. The government alleged Garnes claimed to have provided services for some Medicaid patients whom she did not help. Federal prosecutors said Garnes conspired with others to permit others to use her Medicaid number to get payment for services.
But most of those services never were provided, prosecutors said.
During the trial, the government alleged Garnes kept 30 percent of the Medicaid reimbursements she received and distributed the rest to her co-conspirators. She also was accused of often billing more than 24 hours of therapy services in a single day, including 69 hours of therapy in a single day in December 2009.
She used the money to buy a Mercedes-Benz and get plastic surgery, prosecutors said.
“Garnes’ first mistake was to steal from Medicaid. Her second mistake was to think she would not get caught,” U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said. “Today’s sentence is a stark warning to those who believe that committing health care fraud will not land them in prison.”
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