The Beginning of the End

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Hands of old woman on handles of a treadmill in physiotherapy

Twilight years are those near the end of life. It’s a time when individuals are seeking a comfortable existence in a safe and secure setting. It’s ironic that an Annville, Pennsylvania nurse chose the name “Twilight Beginnings” for her business, which provided psychiatric services to elderly clients. While the healthcare fraud scheme masterminded by the business owner was carried out at the beginning of her own twilight years and impacted patients in their twilight years, the brazen scheme that stole more than $152,000 from government healthcare programs became the beginning of the end of her career.

The 67-year-old nurse practitioner operated her business out of Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania where she served adolescents, while also providing mental health services to patients in nursing homes across central and northeastern Pennsylvania. She recruited employees who were either unlicensed or not licensed at all to provide psychiatric services, including a retired chiropractor with a criminal record. (Last time I checked, chiropractors don’t treat mental health disorders from the neck up.)

The mental health business owner provided false licensing documents to Medicaid to prove that her counselors were licensed. She billed Medicare for counseling services she claimed to provide while on vacation in multiple locations including Las Vegas, Russia, Denmark, London, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Scotland and Ireland. Overall, she illegally billed the government healthcare programs more than $152,000.

The business owner pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud for her crime against vulnerable citizens and the government. While the defense attorney cited his client’s age when asking for leniency, the judge sentenced her to six years behind federal prison bars. (She’ll be around 75 years old when she gets out.) She will also be required to serve three years of probation following her release, pay more than $152,000 in restitution and a $150,000 fine.

While today’s fraudster from Pennsylvania had hoped that her healthcare fraud scheme would be the beginning of an endless flow of money into her bank account during her twilight years, it looks like the sun has set on her career. (It’s a very sad ending for someone who was old enough to know better.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Nurse, 67, gets 6 years in federal prison for $152K health care fraud,” posted on PennLive.com on May 10, 2018.

A 67-year-old nurse from Annville has been ordered to spend 6 years in federal prison for what investigators called a “brazen” $152,000 health care fraud.

Joan Cicchiello operated Twilight Beginnings of Mount Carmel, which provided mental health services.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.