North Carolina owner of mental helath facility gets 24 months prison for fraud
July 23, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Charlotte man and owner of a behavioral health company was sentenced on Thursday, July 11, 2013, to serve 24 months in prison for attempting to obtain nearly $400,000 in fraudulent reimbursement claims from North Carolina Medicaid, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Gregory Benny Lassiter, Jr., 32, of Charlotte, was also ordered to remain under court supervision for two years, following his prison term.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Derrick Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations, Atlanta Region and Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division (MID).
In August 2012, Lassiter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. According to court documents filed in the case, Lassiter was the owner of VisionOne Health Services, Inc., (“VisionOne”), a Charlotte-based company approved by Medicaid to provide outpatient behavioral health services to Medicaid recipients. Court documents indicate that Lassiter and VisionOne hired Dr. M.T. to provide certain review services at VisionOne, but Dr. M.T. did not see any clients while employed by VisionOne. Dr. M.T. only worked for Lassiter for a few months in 2009. According to court records and yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Lassiter misappropriated Dr. M.T.’s Medicaid provider number and submitted fraudulent claims to Medicaid, falsely stating that Dr. M.T. had provided services to clients long after Dr. M.T. had terminated her relationship with Lassiter and VisionOne. These false and fraudulent claims were submitted to Medicaid between November 2009 and April 2011 and resulted in Medicaid payments to Lassiter exceeding $191,000.
Lassiter also admitted that he submitted false claims to Medicaid for services that his company never provided. According to court records and proceedings, in October 2010, Lassiter agreed with co-conspirator Erika Holland to submit claims through VisionOne’s Medicaid provider number for services that Holland and her companies allegedly provided. Holland was not approved by Medicaid to provide mental and behavioral health services and did not employ any licensed therapists. Court documents reveal that Lassiter, nevertheless, submitted fraudulent claims to Medicaid on Holland’s behalf, claiming that VisionOne and other clinicians had provided the claimed behavioral health services. In many instances, the services were never provided at all. In exchange for submitting these false claims through his company’s Medicaid provider number, Lassiter kept 30% of the Medicaid reimbursement for the false claims. From late October 2010 to December 2010, Lassiter and Holland received approximately $93,000 from Medicaid based upon these false claims.
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. ordered Lassiter to pay $234,787.91 in restitution. In announcing the sentence, Judge Conrad noted that the offense involved the theft from a fund established to help the disadvantaged and was not intended to “enrich others who prey upon the system.”
Lassiter has been released on bond since entering his guilty plea in August 2012. He will be ordered to report to a federal facility, at which time he will be transferred into the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
Co-conspirator Erika Holland was sentenced on March 2, 2012, to serve 54 months in prison for her role in the scheme, and was ordered to pay $1,585,093 in restitution.
The investigation was handled by HHS-OIG and MID. The prosecution of the case is handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelli Ferry.
The investigation and charges are the work of the Western District’s joint Health Care Fraud Task Force. The Task Force is multi-agency team of experienced federal and state investigators, working in conjunction with criminal and civil Assistant United States Attorneys, dedicated to identifying and prosecuting those who defraud the health care system, and reducing the potential for health care fraud in the future. The Task Force focuses on the coordination of cases, information sharing, identification of trends in health care fraud throughout the region, staffing of all whistle blower complaints, and the creation of investigative teams so that individual agencies may focus their unique areas of expertise on investigations. The Task Force builds upon existing partnerships between the agencies and its work reflects a heightened effort to reduce fraud and recover taxpayer dollars.
Source: "Owner Of Charlotte Behavioral Health Company Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For $400,000 Medicaid Fraud Scheme," news release of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, July 12, 2013.
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