“Riddle of the day:” What does a fraudster do while waiting to be sentenced for committing fraud? Answer: Commit another fraud of course! Or at least that is what Nicole Steiner, from Stratford, Connecticut did after she pled guilty to Medicaid fraud in 2021. While at home, awaiting her sentencing for her first Medicaid fraud crime, her other company committed the same fraud.
It started when Steiner’s organization called Helping Hands Academy of Bridgeport was enrolled as a participating provider in the Connecticut Medicaid Program. Helping Hands Academy provided applied behavior analysis services to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. “Provided” being the fraudulent verb. From December 2018 to October 2020, Steiner submitted claims for services never rendered and inflated the supposed number of hours services that had actually been provided to Medicaid clients.
Steiner also submitted false Medicaid claims in 2020 using a former employee’s name and performing provider number. When the state Department of Social Services got suspicious, they terminated Helping Hands Academy as a provider. Steiner then tried a strategy of writing fraudulent claims to cover fraudulent claims and submitted altered documents and false statements in an effort to reverse the termination and receive payment for previously submitted claims. It didn’t work and on April 28, 2021,Steiner pled guilty to over $500,000 Medicaid Fraud.
After her first guilty plea, while Steiner was free on $50,000 bond, and awaiting sentencing in her case, Steiner committed a second Medicaid fraud case! Steiner was a partner in another company called New Beginning Children’s Behavioral Health, a company that also proved applied behavior analysis services to children and billed Medicaid for thousands of dollars in services not rendered, in particular for services not rendered by Steiner herself.
Steiner pled guilty again but the story may not be over. She is at this time on a $250,000 bond waiting her sentencing. Therefore, tomorrow’s Riddle of the Day: What does a fraudster do while sitting at home waiting to be sentenced for committing fraud again?
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article posted in Hartford Courant on August 2, 2022
Feds: CT woman admits committing health care fraud while waiting to be sentenced for health care fraud
A former Connecticut resident pleaded guilty to a health care fraud offense that she committed while awaiting sentencing in another health care fraud case, according to federal prosecutors.
Nicole Steiner, formerly known as Nicole Balkas, 32, formerly of Stratford and now residing in Edison, New Jersey, entered her plea Friday at Bridgeport federal court. Federal prosecutors, citing court documents and statements made in court, said that Steiner pleaded guilty on April 28, 2021, to one count of health care fraud related to her operation of Helping Hands Academy, LLC, in Bridgeport.