Like Mother, Like Daughter

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Geriatric doctor (geriatrician) consulting and diagnostic examining elderly senior adult patient (older person) on aging and mental health care in medical clinic office or hospital examination room

Many genes can filter down through generations of families. Some family members might end up with hazel eyes, thick hair, or height that can contribute to a college basketball scholarship, while others might find themselves with less desirable genes that contribute to receding hairlines. If there were such a thing as a fraud gene, a mom and daughter from Faulkner County, Ark., definitely share an undesirable bent toward criminal activity. The dynamic duo tried to defraud Medicaid out of thousands of dollars.

Vonita Galerose Herbert was arrested alongside her mother, Juanita Faye Rowden, on suspicion of Medicaid fraud and abuse of an endangered woman. The mother and daughter were accused of billing $2,639.70 for services never provided to an 89-year-old bedridden woman. Their victim was suffering from dementia and had limited cognitive functionalities. (They exploited an incapacitated woman for their own selfish financial gain.)

Rowden was hired by the victim’s daughter to provide at-home care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rowden then hired her daughter, Herbert, to provide Personal Care and Elder Choice Services. (The differences between the daughters in this article is astounding. The victim’s daughter was looking out for her mother’s well-being while the other daughter was looking out for her criminal mother’s pocketbook.)

The Personal Care program provides help with bathing, dressing, eating, housekeeping, laundry, and other services for patients who are dependent on others for all aspects of daily living. Rowden ensured that Herbert was the aide assigned to helping the dementia patient under her care. (That allowed mama bear to conspire with her cub to keep the scheme under wraps.) 

On May 8, 2015, the victim was found by investigators to be severely dehydrated. She also had multiple bedsores, pressure wounds, and was suffering from pneumonia. (They were happy to let this woman decline while they continued to be paid. That is just plain immoral.)  

Herbert told Adult Protective Services (APS) investigators that her job was to change linens and wash laundry. She had fraudulently signed timesheets billing for time spent bathing, toileting, dressing, etc. (She didn’t get her fake story straight.)  

Herbert did not provide any of the services claimed on her timesheets. She was found guilty of Medicaid fraud. Despite pleading no contest, Herbert was sentenced to three years in prison. (Under Arkansas law, a plea of no contest is equivalent to a guilty plea. While a defendant does not specifically admit to the allegations against him or her, they basically choose not to contest the allegations.)

Herbert was sentenced to serve three years in the Arkansas Department of Correction and received a two-year suspended sentence. Her mother was also found guilty of theft by receiving and abuse of adults and was ordered to serve five years of felony probation, according to court records. (In other words, they got off easy. Can’t say that was the case for their victim.)

If you suspect a healthcare professional of Medicaid or Medicare fraud, please report it by phone at 1-800-447-8477 or via email to HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Faulkner County woman sentenced to 3 years in Medicaid fraud case,” published by The Log Cabin Democrat on November 19, 2020.

A Faulkner County woman who pleaded no contest earlier this year in the Medicaid fraud case filed against her was sentenced to three years in prison last week.

Vonita Galerose Herbert (Pitones), 32, was arrested in March 2017 alongside her mother, Juanita Faye Rowden (Cruz), on suspicion of Medicaid fraud and abuse of an endangered woman.

 

 

 

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.