Mental health counselor Margie Hollingsworth going to prison for 47 months for Medicaid fraud

November 7, 2012

A Lubbock counselor was sentenced Friday to 47 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $556,000 in restitution for making false statements in Medicaid billings.

U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings also ordered Margie E. Hollingsworth to pay a $6,000 fine.

Cummings gave Hollingsworth, who still has a counseling practice, a month to help her clients find other counseling services and deal with personal matters before reporting to prison.

She faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hollingsworth pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements involving health care matters.

A federal grand jury handed down an 18-count indictment in December, including 12 counts of health care fraud and six counts of making false statements.

The case apparently started with a state investigation that led to a Lubbock County grand jury indicting her in October 2010 on one count of Medicaid fraud of more than $200,000. According to court documents, county prosecutors were nearing a trial date when the federal indictment came down.

At that point, the state dismissed its case.

According to the federal indictment, Hollingsworth billed Medicaid for more than $1 million from January 2004 through December 2009, and was paid $576,234, including $556,704 in fraudulent claims.

Hollingsworth and federal public defender David Sloan told Cummings Friday that Hollingsworth’s illegal billings involved seeing clients after they’d used up their 30 annual sessions allowed by Medicaid, or billing for services Medicaid doesn’t cover, such as long-distance telephone services.

“She wasn’t using her patients as an ATM card,” Sloan said.

Hollingsworth, who said she is 62, asked for a suspended sentence so she could keep working to pay off the restitution, because she will have no income while in prison.

She said she still has her counseling license, and said she intended to apply for Social Security and a reverse mortgage to help pay off the restitution.

Source: "Counselor gets 47 months in Medicaid fraud case," Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, October 19, 2012. 


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