Bluffing in Butte

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difference invoices and bills with red paid stamp, concept and ideas

The city of Butte, Montana was named after a nearby peak, Big Butte, which was referred to as “the richest hill on earth.” (Rich mineral deposits – like gold – attracted settlers to the area in the late 1800’s.) According to today’s fraud article, a family matriarch from Butte, her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter were attracted to a Medicaid fraud scam that enabled them to bluff their way through hundreds of falsified timesheets to collect tens of thousands of dollars in Medicaid benefits they did not deserve.

The matriarch received personal healthcare services in her home from a home healthcare company where her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter happened to work. The family members cared for the woman and another relative for eight years. (You can probably guess where this is going.)

The woman conspired with her family members to submit bogus timesheets claiming that she had received services from the home healthcare company. (Court documents show that the mother and her son were accused of falsifying between 83 and 574 timesheets. They were hoping that the large number of claims would make it difficult to track down the inconsistencies in their billing practices.)

After a four-day trial, a jury found the 65-year-old Butte, Montana woman guilty of Medicaid fraud. She was scheduled to be sentenced, however, she died before she learned her punishment. Her son is currently awaiting trial. (Perhaps he is trying to bluff his way out of the crime.)

The woman’s daughter-in-law, who worked for the home healthcare company for nearly four years, reached a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud. (She was accused of receiving $71,000 through the false timesheet scam.) The daughter-in-law received a six-year deferred sentence. She is required to pay back more than $35,400 in restitution to Montana’s Medicaid program.

The granddaughter, who only worked for the home healthcare company for four months, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of Medicaid fraud. She received a six-year deferred sentence and must pay $828 in restitution.

The woman in today’s fraud article obviously deserved home healthcare due to her illness as mentioned in her obituary, but she mistakenly thought her family should profit from the government healthcare program meant for qualified beneficiaries. The matriarch, who got caught bluffing in Butte, had her bluff called. (She has left an unfortunate legacy to her remaining family members.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Butte woman guilty in Medicaid theft case; sentencing set for March,” published by the Montana Standard on January 16, 2018.

A Butte woman will be sentenced in March for conspiring with family members to bilk thousands of dollars from the Medicaid assistance program.

A Butte jury on Friday found Vera Gail Meeks, 65, guilty on three felony counts of conspiring to commit theft of public funds. The verdict followed a four-day trial.

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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.