Medicaid is a state-based insurance program meant to help cover medical costs for those with less income and financial resources. Unfortunately, Medicaid is also one of the largest targets of healthcare fraud throughout the country.
Current Georgia resident Markuetric Stringfellow has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges filed in both North and South Carolina for defrauding those states’ Medicaid programs. Stringfellow partnered with multiple local companies including Everlasting Vitality, LLC (EV) and Do-It-4-The Hood Corporation (D4H) during the time he lived in Charlotte, NC.
EV and D4H operated after-school programs throughout North Carolina. Stringfellow spearheaded a scheme to detect Medicaid beneficiaries through the aforementioned programs. After recruiting at-risk youths for the after-school programs, he would require them to submit to drug testing and refer them to specific laboratories. (It takes a certain kind of scumbag to take advantage of programs meant to empower and mentor at-risk youths.)
From 2016 to 2018, Stringellow and co-conspirators would illegally receive kickbacks from the laboratories for each referral. (I hope it was worth selling their soul for.) They would also obtain and provide the laboratories with personal identifying information of the kids enrolled in the program, such as names, addresses, dates of birth, and Medicaid beneficiary numbers.
The drug testing samples laboratories submitted to Medicaid were fraudulent because they were medically unnecessary, or the urine was not that of the Medicaid beneficiaries listed. Medicaid reimbursed the laboratories not knowing the tests were fraudulent. The laboratories would pay a percentage of their reimbursement to companies controlled by Stringellow and associates.
Stringellow also pioneered a similar scheme in South Carolina which resulted in their state’s Medicaid program being defrauded. (Profiting from defrauding one state wasn’t good enough, he had to aim for two.) He was a franchise owner of Wrights Care Services LLC (Wrights Care) which was deemed a qualified provider of rehabilitative behavioral health services in South Carolina.
Wrights Care began fraudulently filing claims in 2014 for behavioral services that were not provided, only partially provided, or did not qualify for reimbursement. Stringfellow and co-conspirators created fraudulent billing records and fake medical notes by forging signatures and falsifying records.
The falsified records were provided to South Carolina Medicaid auditors in an effort to make their significant number of fraudulent billings seem legitimate. (Surprisingly, they did not fool anybody with their half-baked forgery attempts.)
Stringfellow pleaded guilty to both counts of conspiracy to commit Medicaid fraud. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced.
If you need to report suspected Medicaid fraud you can locate the appropriate contact for your state using the search tool provided on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services website.
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Georgia Man Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy Charges For Defrauding The North And South Carolina Medicaid Programs,” on August 21, 2020.
Markuetric Stringfellow, 37, of Powder Springs, Georgia, appeared in court today and pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges filed in the U.S. District Courts in North and South Carolina, for defrauding the states’ Medicaid programs, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, and U.S. Attorney Peter M. McCoy, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina. U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer presided over today’s plea hearing.
According to filed plea documents and today’s plea hearing, Stringfellow was a resident of Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina, and a partner in Everlasting Vitality, LLC (EV) and Do-It-4-The Hood Corporation (D4H). D4H operated after-school programs in Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Rocky-Mount, North Carolina, among others. Beginning in or about January 7, 2016, and continuing through November 12, 2018, Stringfellow and his co-conspirators executed a conspiracy to defraud the North Carolina Medicaid program by soliciting illegal kickbacks from various drug testing laboratories, in exchange for referrals of North Carolina Medicaid beneficiaries obtained through the after-school programs operated by EV and D4H.