Owner, provider at North Florida Mental Health convicted for health care fraud
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tuesday, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Jason R. Coody, announced in a press release that two people, the owner at North Florida Mental Health and one of its providers, have been convicted for Medicaid fraud.
42-year-old Stephanie Lynn Fleming and 37-year-old Helen Elizabeth Storey, both of Waldorf, Maryland, and both formerly of Tallahassee, were found guilty of health care fraud conspiracy, health care fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Fleming was also found guilty of making false statements in connection to health care matters. The convictions came Monday after a three day federal bench trial that involved testimony from more than 15 witnesses and over 125 exhibits introduced into evidence, the press release said.
Storey owned and operated the Tallahassee-based counseling center, and employed Fleming as a licensed mental health counselor.
Evidence presented in court showed that between April 15, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2017, Storey and Fleming improperly obtained, or attempted to obtain, more than $250,000 from Florida Medicaid by submitting fraudulent claims through NFMH.
Fleming, who provided psychotherapy, psychiatric diagnostic evaluations and therapeutic behavioral services to patients of NFMH, agreed to a five-year debarment from participating in any state Medicaid program as a result of a 2016 felony conviction involving Medicaid fraud in the state of New Jersey.
Per the press release, evidence presented in court proved that Fleming falsely claimed on an application to become a Florida Medicaid provider that she had not been convicted of, or pled guilty or no contest to, a felony.
Additional evidence demonstrated that Storey knew of Fleming’s conviction and debarment, and that Fleming was therefore ineligible to participate as a Florida Medicaid provider.
During the trial, evidence showed that Fleming caused to be submitted – and that Storey submitted – multiple fraudulent Medicare claims by means of aggravated identity theft. In doing so, some of the false Medicare claims reflected that another eligible and licensed NFMH therapist performed services that, in reality, were provided by Fleming during the period of time that she was under debarment from participation in any state Medicaid program.
The court heard evidence of additional instances in which the names and personal identification information of NFMH patients, many of whom were children, were used to submit fictitious Medicare claims for services that were not performed at all.
Both Storey and Fleming face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and they both also face two years in prison as a mandatory minimum sentence, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for each count of aggravated identity theft. Fleming’s conviction for making false statements in connection to health care matters carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Sentencing is scheduled for August 20, 2021, at 1:30 p.m. at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee.
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