A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Pleas Of Mother-Son Team For Allegedly Defrauding Medicaid-Funded Home Health Programs

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2017

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A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES GUILTY PLEAS OF MOTHER-SON TEAM FOR ALLEGEDLY DEFRAUDING MEDICAID-FUNDED HOME HEALTH PROGRAMS 

Karen Pierce And Robert Garrett Allegedly Stole Over $5K From Medicaid By Submitting False Timesheets For Services Not Provided 

Schneiderman: We Will Fight To Hold Those Who Steal From Medicaid Accountable 

UTICA – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Karen Pierce, 56 of Utica, entered a guilty plea admitting that she helped her son Robert Garrett steal over $5,000 in Medicaid benefits through the Consumer Directed Program operated by the Resource Center for Independent Living. Pierce entered a plea of guilty to petit larceny today before Utica City Court Judge Christopher Giarruzzi, admitting that she together with Robert Garrett stole $5,693.74 from the Medicaid program. As part of the plea agreement, they will each be jointly responsible for restitution of the full amount of the theft.

Robert Garrett had entered a similar plea before Judge Giaruzzi on December 15, 2016.  Pierce will be sentenced on March 23, 2017; Garrett is scheduled for sentencing on February 16, 2017.

“Those who defraud Medicaid are taking vital funds out of the hands of vulnerable New Yorkers who rely on them,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We will continue to aggressively pursue all individuals who steal from Medicaid to enrich themselves.”

The integrity of the Consumer Directed Program is based on the honesty of both the Medicaid recipient as well as the care provider. The Office of the Attorney General will maintain that integrity by aggressively prosecuting abuse within that program.

Pierce is disabled and received in-home care services.  The purpose of the Consumer Directed Program is to allow disabled individuals to remain in their own homes living independently while receiving necessary household services. The cost of these services is lower than the cost of inpatient services that she would otherwise require.  The Consumer Directed Program allowed Pierce to select her own in home care providers. During the period of the theft, Pierce employed family members including her son, Garrett. Care providers would be required to call in from Pierce’s home using a personal PIN to log in hours. They would then call and log out using the same phone number and PIN.  During the investigation it was determined that Garrett was working another job during times when he claimed that he was providing services for his mother. It was determined that Pierce would log Garrett in and out using Garrett’s PIN. Both Pierce and Garrett admitted that Garret would then collect his check for hours that he did not work and split the proceeds between them. 

The Investigation was conducted by Senior Special Investigator Michael Ostuni and Special Investigator Scott Petucci. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney Paul Berry. The Syracuse Regional Office is under the supervision of Regional Director Ralph D. Tortora, III. The audit work was conducted by Special Auditor/Investigator Siobhan O’Leary who is supervised by Regional Chief Auditor Thomas Goodman. The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) Upstate Chief of Criminal Investigations is Catherine Wagner. MFCU is led by Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney Paul J. Mahoney.

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