Owner of local therapy center accused of racketeering, Medicaid fraud

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
November 17, 2017

Rachel Scharlepp

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — The owner of a Tallahassee therapy center has been arrested, accused of racketeering and Medicaid fraud.

Rachel Scharlepp, 34, owner of PlayBig Therapy & Recreation Zone LLC, was taken into custody on Friday.

The arrest comes after an investigation by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Leon Country Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities say Scharlepp is accused of hiring unqualified employees to provide targeted case management to children, including children not qualified to receive such services.

Scharlepp allegedly falsely certified seven targeted case managers who did not have the required one year of full-time experience working with children with serious emotional disturbances.

Investigators say Scharlepp also allegedly certified unqualified children to receive targeted case management services. The children either had no mental health disability; already possessed a natural support system for accessing needed medical, social and educational services; or had no documented risk of out-of-home mental health treatment placement.

Scharlepp faces one count of racketeering, a first-degree felony, two counts of Medicaid provider fraud more than $10,000, second-degree felonies, and five counts of Medicaid provider fraud, third-degree felonies.

If convicted, Scharlepp faces up to 85 years in prison and more than $528,000 in fines.

Scharlepp was booked into the Leon County Detention Facility on Friday but has since bonded out.

This afternoon, Scharlepp released a statement in response to the allegations, reading:

“I’m a mother of an one year old son, I’m married to a great husband who is an attorney, and I’m about to receive my Ph.D. from FSU. I’m blessed with great family and friends, which will give me the courage and strength to fight these unfounded allegations. After years of secrecy and threats of prosecution by the Attorney General investigative unit, I finally get my chance to defend my name and reputation. Thank you to everyone for your unyielding support and prayers as we begin our fight for justice.”

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