A Sacred Journey

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Stethoscope on 100 dollar bills symbolizing financial surveillance

Most healthcare professionals join the field because they want to make an impact in their patients’ lives. One woman from Raleigh, N.C., certainly made an impact on the lives of her patients, but unfortunately, it was not for the better. Connie Omari, 37, has pleaded guilty to making false statements to Medicaid to obtain payments for services and benefits.

Omari was a licensed professional counselor in both the Commonwealth of Virginia and North Carolina. She owned and operated a Norfolk-based company called Sacred Journey, Inc., a provider of partial hospitalization services to psychiatric patients at risk of full hospitalization, or patients transitioning from psychiatric hospitalization. (It appears she was on a journey to defraud her patients.)

Omari abused her position as a licensed professional counselor to orchestrate a scheme involving the fraudulent submission of Medicaid claims for over 100 patients. She overbilled Medicaid by submitting false claims to them when no service was provided to any of the beneficiaries. (Her goal was to get paid to rest on her laurels.)

Court documents detail thirty-nine specific instances in January and February of 2017 when Omari billed Medicaid for services she purportedly provided to patients. During this time, Omari and her family were on a trip out of the country, and it was impossible for her to provide the services for which she billed. (Unless she secretly has superpowers, I don’t think she was performing any services while tanning on the beach.)

From September 2015 through June 2017, Omari submitted false claims to Medicaid for over 100 patients and caused Medicaid more than $548,000 in losses. She is scheduled to be sentenced on February 18, 2022 at which time she faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. (I have a feeling this fraudster is about to begin a sacred journey through the penal system.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “North Carolina Woman Pleads Guilty in Medicaid Fraud Scheme,” published on September 14, 2021.

NORFOLK, Va. – A Raleigh, North Carolina, woman pleaded guilty today to making false statements to Medicaid to obtain payments for services and benefits.

“The defendant abused her position as a licensed professional counselor to orchestrate a scheme involving the fraudulent submission of Medicaid claims for over 100 patients,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Working with our partner agencies, we will continue to investigate and prosecute those who attempt to defraud and manipulate the health care system for their own personal benefit.”

 

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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.