A Charlotte man was convicted Friday in federal court of conspiring to defraud Medicaid of at least $700,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
Calvin Cantrell Estrich, 32, was also convicted of committing health care fraud, stealing the identities of children and clinicians to commit the fraud, money laundering and making false statements to investigators, officials said Friday.
The verdict came following a four-day trial. Estrich remains free on bond pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
“We will not allow the likes of Estrich to use Medicaid or any other taxpayer-funded health care program as their personal ATMS,” U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said.
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper said: “Ripping off Medicaid harms needy patients, wastes tax dollars and contributes to rising health care costs.”
Estrich is the former owner of Everyday Blessing, which was approved by Medicaid to provide in-home mental and behavioral services designed to stabilize children‘s living arrangements, court records show.
Prosecutors said Estrich and co-conspirator Joye Strong participated in a scheme to defraud Medicaid for medically unnecessary services from spring 2009 to November 2010.
Strong pleaded guilty in October 2011 to eight counts of health care fraud and two counts of money laundering, prosecutors said. Strong is awaiting sentencing.
Estrich and Strong stole and misused the identities of a nurse practitioner and two therapists in order to complete the paperwork necessary for Medicaid to approve services, prosecutors said.
Once the services were approved based on that paperwork, Estrich and Strong would seek and receive payment from Medicaid for the fraudulent services which the Medicaid recipients never received in many instances, according to prosecutors.
When investigators questioned Estrich about the fraud scheme in December 2012, Estrich made materially false and fraudulent statements, prosecutors said.
Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory prison term of two years. Health care fraud carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, as does money laundering.
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda
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