The article below has been highlighted and summarized by our research team. It is provided here for member convenience as part of our Curator service.
NC fraudster stole $10M using obituaries to get info needed to back bill NC Medicaid using the online NC Medicaid eligibility tool.
Clipped from: https://www.irs.gov/compliance/criminal-investigation/business-owner-who-orchestrated-13-million-fraud-upon-north-carolina-medicaid-program-from-las-vegas-pleads-guilty-forfeits-private-jet
Date: November 18, 2020
Raleigh, NC — A Las Vegas, Nevada resident pleaded guilty today to Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, and Aggravated Identity Theft, and further agreed to forfeit the proceeds of her crimes. These proceeds included up to $13,396,921.64, a British Aerospace Bae 125-800A Aircraft, a 2017 Aston Martin DB 11 sports car; a 2016 Ford F-150 Super-Crew pickup truck; real property held in the name of Assured Healthcare Systems in Hertford County, North Carolina; real property located in Charles County, Maryland; as well as various other items of designer jewelry and luxury items seized from the defendant’s penthouse condominium in Las Vegas.
According to court documents, Latisha Harron, also known as Latisha Reese Holt, originally from Eastern North Carolina, admitted to conspiring with her husband to carry out a massive fraud upon the North Carolina Medicaid Program (“NC Medicaid”) by billing the government for fictitious home health services. Harron admitted to then working with her husband to launder the proceeds of the fraud into, among other things, a private jet, luxury jewelry and clothing, and properties in Ahoskie and Rich Square, North Carolina.
According to the charges, Harron created, and was operating, Agape Healthcare Systems, Inc. (“Agape”) an alleged Medicaid home health provider, in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. As charged, to enroll Agape as a Medicaid provider, Harron fraudulently concealed her prior felony conviction for Identity Theft. In 2012, Harron moved out of North Carolina to Maryland. Despite that move, Harron continued to bill NC Medicaid as though Agape was providing home health services to North Carolina recipients.
As charged, in May of 2017, Latisha Harron moved to Las Vegas, Nevada to live with codefendant Timothy Mark Harron, and that the two were married in 2018. The indictment alleges that Timothy Harron was also a previously convicted felon, and that this fact was concealed from the NC Medicaid on enrollment documents. Harron pleaded guilty to allegations that Harron and her husband then worked together to expand the Agape fraud upon NC Medicaid, by fraudulently billing the program for more than $10 Million, just in the period between 2017 and 2019.
As charged, Harron admitted that she and her husband carried out the fraud by exploiting an eligibility tool that was entrusted only to NC Medicaid providers. Specifically, Harron and her husband searched publicly available sources, such as obituary postings on the internet by North Carolina funeral homes, to locate recently deceased North Carolinians. Harron admitted that the two would then extract from the obituary postings certain personal information for the deceased, including their name, date of birth, and date of death. Then, utilizing the extracted information, the defendants would then query the NC Medicaid eligibility tool to determine whether the deceased individual had a Medicaid Identification Number. If the deceased North Carolinian had a valid Medicaid Identification Number and was otherwise eligible for Medicaid coverage during their life, the defendants would use that individual’s identity to “back-bill” NC Medicaid, through Agape, for up to one year of fictitious home health services that were allegedly rendered prior to the death of the individual. NC Medicaid then disbursed millions to Agape, all of which flowed into accounts controlled by the Harron and her husband.
Harron admitted that she and her husband carried out the fraud via the internet from locations around the globe, including their corporate office building in Las Vegas, their penthouse condominium in Las Vegas, a corporate office in North Carolina, and from various hotels and luxury resorts in and outside of the United States.
Harron further pled guilty to laundering the proceeds of the Agape fraud into various luxury items. These expenses included a $900,000 wire for the purchase of a British Aerospace Bae 125-800A private jet, hundreds of thousands of dollars in Tiffany & Co. and Brioni clothing and jewelry, thousands of dollars on Eastern North Carolina business properties, and thousands of dollars in gym equipment.
Latisha Harron pleaded guilty to (1) Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud and Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, which carries a maximum punishment of up to 20 years in prison, (2) one count of Aggravated Identity Theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A, each of which carry a maximum punishment of not less than, nor more than, two years in prison consecutive to other sentences, and (5) Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h), which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II accepted the plea. The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, and the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Investigations Division, are all investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is the prosecutor on this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Harris represents the United States with respect to forfeiture aspects of the case.