MM Curator summary
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[MM Curator Summary]: Alfonzo and 20 of his employees used a bogus counseling company to steal $3.4M of your tax dollars. Medicaid members also took kickbacks to help make it all work. They did not say thank you.
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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The owner of a Cleveland nonprofit offering mental health counseling, which for years defrauded Medicaid by filing fake claims, will spend three years in prison and must repay $3.4 million, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Alfonzo Bailey, 40, of Euclid, who founded Eye for Change Youth and Family Services in 2016, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Rebecca Lutzko of Ohio’s Northern District Court.
He was sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $3,465,643 in restitution for the scheme, in which the nonprofit’s employees conspired to bill the Ohio Department of Medicaid for services that were never rendered according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The nonprofit Eye for Change offered mental health counseling, case management, job training and supportive housing, among other services, according to the release.
A superseding indictment handed up in May 2021
charged Bailey, the nonprofit and 20 employees with healthcare fraud, money laundering and other related charges in the scheme, which lasted from February 2017 to September 2020.
Prosecutors alleged employees were directed to misdiagnose Medicaid beneficiaries, seeking authorization from the state Medicaid department to offer services at increased rates. Some employees submitted false notes to show proof of the services, according to prosecutors.
Others were accused of paying kickbacks including cash, gift cards and rent or bill payments to those Medicaid beneficiaries, in order to add them to the nonprofit’s clientele, then sending more fraudulent bills to Medicaid.
“These individuals engaged in a scheme to defraud taxpayers by submitting fraudulent billing to a federally funded healthcare program, which is supported by hard-working citizens,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith is quoted in a news release from November 2020, when Bailey and eight others were initially indicted.
“There are actually real people out there who are suffering and need help,” Attorney General Dave Yost said at the time. “You don’t have to make up imaginary patients. A jury of their peers will undoubtedly know some of them. I’m grateful for the state-federal partnership that is bringing these fakes to justice.”