A Bitter Pill to Swallow


Speech-Language Pathologists, who are also called speech therapists, work with children and adults to prevent communication and swallowing disorders. (Reasons for treatment can include stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, Parkinson’s disease, a cleft palate, or autism.) While speech therapists help their patients to regain their ability to speak and swallow, one from Raleigh, NC left her employer, as well as the government, speechless after committing Medicaid fraud.

The 30-year-old fraudster’s crime put an end to her career, which had really just started. To work as a speech therapist, she most likely had a master’s degree. (This means that she had not been working too long, but long enough to know how to scam the Medicaid system.)

The speech-language pathologist from Raleigh worked for an employer in Greenville. Over nine months, she submitted bogus timesheets falsely claiming she had provided speech therapy and treatment to 13 Medicaid patients. (She was naïve to think that her false claims would never be discovered.)

It was the speech pathologist’s employer that discovered her discrepancies. After an internal audit was performed, the employer fired her. (Fortunately, it sounds like her employer was conscientious and did the right thing.)

The young fraudster from North Carolina pleaded guilty to attempted Medicaid fraud and received a suspended jail sentence of 30 days, plus one year of unsupervised probation. (She must have had a sympathetic judge.) She was ordered to pay $8,241.16 in restitution to her employer and court costs. (Her employer reimbursed the Medicaid program for their former employer’s deceptive billing practices.)

Today’s article does not provide justification for the former speech and language pathologist’s Medicaid fraud crime, but perhaps she was having trouble with making ends meet, had an online shopping habit, or was just plain greedy. (Who knows?) The North Carolinian’s punishment also included having her license to practice revoked. (Ironically, I’m sure that was a bitter pill for her to swallow.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Guilty plea entered in Medicaid fraud case,” posted on Reflector.com on November 14, 2017.

A former speech and language pathologist received a 30-day suspended jail sentence and 12 months unsupervised probation after pleading guilty to attempted Medicaid provider fraud, according to a Monday news release from the N.C. Attorney General’s Office.

Ashley Sawyer, who was arrested and charged in late October, entered her plea Monday in Wake County, the release said. Sawyer also was ordered to pay $8,241.16 in restitution to her employer and court costs.

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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.