You can always expect a robust debate when the topic of welfare programs comes up. Even if everyone can agree that it would be desirable for the poor to have better lives, the methods proposed for getting from here to there are myriad, and achieving any sort of consensus is almost impossible. At best, majorities can be assembled to pass some legislation only to see it modified as the make up of legislatures change.
What we can agree on is that welfare fraud is real, wrong, and diverts funds from those who are truly in poverty to those who have figured out how to game the system to make a lot of money. And make no mistake about it, there are those who have created nice lives for themselves by engaging in illegal practices within the welfare system. At least until they are caught, that is.
Can you imagine a prison inmate figuring a way to scam the system? What about in the amount of $800,000 in fraudulent Medicaid benefits? It turns out that just such an inmate, Alexis Norman, has been indicted on doing just that.
“Alexis C. Norman, 46, of Midlothian, Texas has been indicted on felony offenses stemming from a health care fraud conspiracy she ran from prison that involved the submission of more than $810,000 in false claims to Medicaid, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
“Norman is scheduled to make her initial appearance in federal court on July 14, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul D. Stickney.”
There’s no desire here to teach people how to commit welfare fraud, but you have to wonder how she did this.
“On August 4, 2015, Norman pled guilty to one count of health care fraud in connection with a false billing scheme she ran using two companies she owned and operated, Greater Southwest Group, Inc. and Ellis County Community Services. As part of that scheme, Norman used the identities of licensed counselors and Medicaid clients without their knowledge or consent to submit claims to Medicaid for psychotherapy services that were not provided.”
You also have to wonder how this sort of stuff manages to go on for so long without being detected. Did she have an accomplice on the outside? How did she correspond with these entities from prison without the fact being detected?
“According to the indictment that was just unsealed, Norman ran a similar scheme while she was awaiting sentencing in her prior case, and continued to direct it after she was incarcerated. The indictment alleges that Norman, who is not licensed as a psychotherapist or other mental health provider, controlled and operated two counseling companies, Janus Children Services, Inc. (Janus) and Therapeutic Outreach Services (Therapeutic). As part of the scheme, according to the indictment, Norman and a coconspirator applied for and obtained group Medicaid provider numbers for Janus and Therapeutic. They then obtained the individual Medicaid provider numbers of licensed mental health professionals by soliciting applications for job opportunities on Craigslist but not hiring the individuals who applied. Norman and her coconspirators used these provider numbers, together with the names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and Medicaid numbers of approximately 156 Medicaid clients—mostly minor children—to submit claims for services that were not performed.”
So she did have an accomplice, a “co-conspirator,” on the outside who helped facilitate much of this.
“Norman is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, four counts of health care fraud, and four counts of aggravated identity theft. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation that would require the defendant, upon conviction, to forfeit to the U.S. any property traceable to the offense.”
As it turns out, it looks like Ms. Norman is going to have her stay in prison extended. Hence, she’s not going to enjoy her ill-gotten gains, which if they still exist, will likely be disgorged and returned to the government as at least partial compensation for the fraud she is alleged to have committed.
You have to wonder how many more like Ms. Norman are out there?
Source: US Department of Justice