Indictments Handed Down in $8 Million Mental Health Billing Scheme

Deborah Brauser

September 12, 2019

The owner and supervisor of a Louisiana mental health counseling center have been indicted for billing almost $8 million for services not provided — as well as for paying kickbacks, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

Marty Johnson, the owner and operator of the Positive Change Counseling Agency in Shreveport, was charged with 47 counts of healthcare fraud, four counts of wire fraud, one count of paying a kickback, and one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. The center's business manager and supervisor Keesha Dinkins faces all of the same counts except for the kickback charge.

Between January 2014 and December 2018, the center billed Medicaid $7,992,347 for mental health services, such as psychiatric therapy and transportation. However, the indictment states that these services were never actually provided to patients.

According to the DOJ, some clients were recruited to receive services, with some then receiving kickbacks "in exchange for enrolling in certain programs."

Identification numbers from other potential clients and their families were also obtained and used to bill Medicaid for services not given — all without their authorization.

In addition, false documents were created to make it look like the center actually had provided these services; and in order to receive a higher Medicaid payment, employees were falsely listed as having received advanced degrees.

Another scheme to get additional Medicaid payments was by using "false, fabricated, and exaggerated mental health diagnoses," the DOJ said in a press release.

"If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for each count of conspiracy, health care fraud, and wire fraud," the agency added. The illegal kickbacks charge could tack on an additional 10 years to a sentence.

September 10 has been earmarked for the arraignment for Johnson and Dinkins.

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