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No ‘Buttes’ About It

No ‘Buttes’ About It

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

A mental health counselor in Butte, Mont., was charged with 13 counts of Medicaid fraud but made a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to just two of the charges.

Dana Trandahl admitted that she billed Medicaid for mental health counseling services never provided to patients. Trandahl faces up to 20 years in prison and could owe the government $100,000, or 10 times the value of payments obtained. (Considering the price mental health professionals charge, this could be a staggering fee.)

Trandhl was charged with defrauding Medicaid by billing for counseling sessions where the patient was not present. (Her modus operandi, according to investigators, was to bill former and current clients for sessions they did not receive.) Trandahl also stands accused of creating fictitious patients to charge services to.

An additional billing pattern seemed to indicate that Trandhal was fraudulently charging developmentally disabled patients and minors who were entrusted to her care. It wasn’t until concerned parents noticed the suspicious billing that inquiries were made. (This fraudster tried to manipulate those who weren’t in a position to advocate for themselves.)

Prosecutors originally planned to charge Terandahal with identity theft and one count of tampering with evidence, in addition to Medicaid fraud. They said there was evidence that Trandahl potentially tried to convince a client to plant illegal substances on her ex-husband so that she would win a custody battle (This is not only illegal, but very unethical and goes against the American Mental Health Counselors code of ethics. It sounds like the mental health counselor needs some mental health counseling herself.) Both of these charges were dropped as prosecutors chose to focus on the charges related to defrauding Medicaid.

Anyone who notices irregularities in their medical bills or suspects they may be a victim of Medicaid fraud is encouraged to report it to the appropriate contacts based on state and region.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a blog, “Trandahl pleads guilty to Medical fraud in deal with prosecutors,” published by Identity Theft Resource Center on June 6, 2020.

Butte mental health counselor pleaded guilty to two felony counts of Medicaid fraud Friday, admitting she billed the federal program based on false claims.

Prosecutors had charged Dana Trandahl with 13 counts of Medicaid fraud, plus two additional felonies, alleging she billed Medicaid tens of thousands of dollars for services she never provided and listed people who were never her patients.

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