Georgia Psychology Board Disciplines Halisi Edwards-Staten following Fraud Conviction

June 24, 2019

On November 16, 2018, the Georgia State Board of Examiners of Psychologists placed the license of psychologist Halisi Edwards-Staten (aka Halisi Edwards, aka Halisi Trumpler) on probation for three years.

The “Findings of Fact” found in the Board’s document state that in March 2018, Edwards-Staten, who owned and operated the Georgia Center for Health, Wellness & Recovery (“the Center”) in Lithonia, GA, pleaded guilty in United States District Court, to one count of Theft of Government Property (a misdemeanor), for which she was sentenced to 36 months’ probation and restitution.

According to the Criminal Indictment issued against her and co-defendant Kim Bray (an employee of the Center), Edwards-Staten enrolled the Center in Medicaid as a provider of—and purported to provide—Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) services for Medicaid patients. (ACT is described as an intense form of outpatient treatment for people with severe mental illness who are unable to live in the community while under convention outpatient treatment. The service is individualized and includes vocational services, support for families of patients, and services to help integrate patients into the community.)

Edwards-Staten employed Bray as a “community support specialist” purportedly providing ACT “peer support services” to Medicaid patients receiving services from the Center. (“Peer support services” is defined as social support services for people recovering from or coping with a mental illness, delivered by people who have personal experience with a mental disability, either personally or by association with a family member, etc.)

In December 2009, Edwards-Staten obtained a Medicaid provider number for the Center. In April 2010, she enrolled the Center in the ACT program. In December 2010, she hired Bray. At this time, Edwards-Staten submitted a “Fingerprint-Based Background Check” on Bray to the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD, which administers the ACT program).

In January 2011, DBHDD advised Edwards-Staten that Bray was ineligible to provide ACT services to Medicaid patients.

In March 2011, Edwards-Staten signed a “Determination Based on Criminal History Record Information” form indicating to DBHDD that she was no longer considering Bray for employment in the capacity of delivering ACT services.

A background check on Bray in DeKalb County, Georgia (where the Center is located) revealed felony convictions—the basis for her being ineligible to deliver services to Medicaid patients.

Yet Edwards-Staten continued to employ Bray at the Center.

Using this arrangement the two caused thousands of fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicaid for ACT services that were not provided as billed for and not entitled to reimbursement by Medicaid.

Ironically, Edwards is the author of It Costs to Belong: The Challenge of Upward Mobility in the African American Community (1996). She is currently the Vice President of an educational consulting firm in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Source: Public Consent Order in the Matter of Halisi Edwards-Staten, Psy.D., License No. PSY002858, Docket No. 2018-1879, Georgia State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, November 16, 2018.


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