FWA (CT)- Woman who helped CT autistic kids gets 3 years for Medicaid scam

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[MM Curator Summary]: When she was busted for Medicaid fraud at the business she owned, she went and did the same thing as a silent partner at another business- while out on bail. Twice.



Clipped from: https://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Helping-Hands-Bridgeport-Medicaid-scam-17551318.php


A former Connecticut resident who continued to defraud Medicaid even after she was charged with related offenses has been sentenced to three years in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Nicole Steiner, formerly known as Nicole Balkas, 33, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release once her prison term ends and was ordered by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer to pay $505,955.56 in restitution, federal officials said. Steiner’s scheme cost Medicaid a total of $551,311.85 in losses, the Justice Department reported in August.

Steiner owned and operated Helping Hands Academy LLC, a Bridgeport business that provided applied behavior analysis services to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and served as a provider for the Connecticut Medicaid Program, according to federal officials. Between December 2018 and October 2020, Steiner submitted fraudulent Medicaid claims for applied behavior analysis services that were never provided or not provided as indicated in the claim, officials said.



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Officials said Steiner, a former Stratford resident, also posed as a former employee to submit fraudulent claims in 2020. 

In August 2020, the state Department of Social Services, which administers the Connecticut Medicaid Program, terminated Helping Hands as a provider, according to court documents. Steiner made false statements and submitted an altered document in an attempt to reinstate Helping Hands as a provider and receive compensation for previously submitted claims, officials said.

Steiner pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud on April 28, 2021, according to officials. She was released on a $50,000 bond pending sentencing. 

While out on bond, Steiner served as a “silent partner” in a company similar to Helping Hands named New Beginnings Children’s Behavioral Health LLC, according to officials. Steiner was put in charge of billing Medicaid for services rendered, managing payroll and recruiting and screening employees. She resumed submitting fraudulent Medicaid claims for applied behavioral analysis services that were never provided, officials said.

Steiner was arrested on May 2, according to officials. She pleaded guilty to a second count of health care fraud on July 29 and was released on a $250,000 bond pending sentencing, officials said.

While out on bond a second time, Steiner submitted applications indicating she lived in Bridgeport to obtain Medicaid coverage for her and her children, according to officials. However, she was living in New Jersey at the time, officials said.

Steiner was remanded to federal custody after sentencing.