A Connecticut woman awaiting sentencing on a separate fraud conviction reportedly admitted her involvement in a scheme to defraud the state’s Medicaid program.
According to court documents, Nichole Steiner, 32, was in charge of Helping Hands Academy when she falsified claims regarding services she supposedly administered to children with autism. Her confession came more than a year after pleading guilty to federal charges related to receiving Medicaid payments for services that were never actually provided.
Among the criminal acts Steiner admitted committing was altering official documents in hopes of convincing the state Social Services department to reinstate the clinic’s status as a Medicaid-approved provider. In total, prosecutors say her crimes led to losses totaling more than a half million dollars.
Even after pleading guilty to the earlier charges, reports indicate she continued her fraudulent scheme while out of jail on bond ahead of her sentencing hearing.
Steiner is set to be sentenced in October and was ordered to remain under house arrest after posting $250,000 bond. When she appears in court, a judge will hand down sentences “for both cases at the same time,” according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She could spend as much as two decades in prison.
Another Helping Hands staff member, Jessica Stuart, was convicted last year and sentenced to two years behind bars for falsifying her own credentials and defrauding Medicaid for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In another recent case out of Connecticut, a doctor confessed to federal charges related to ordering unnecessary brain scans to defraud insurers.
Medicaid fraud is a persistent and costly issue each year with statistics showing that a total of $1.7 billion was recovered last year alone. That figure was split almost evenly between civil and criminal investigations by the Office of Inspector General and dozens of Medicaid Fraud Control Units across the country.
More than 1,100 defendants were convicted as a result of such investigations during 2021. Most of those convictions were for fraud charges, though 325 stemmed from claims of neglect or abuse.
— AG Ashley Moody (@AGAshleyMoody) August 1, 2022
In total, 540 individuals and organizations were excluded from related federal programs last year as a result of MFCU probes. Another 716 judgments or settlements were completed in civil court.