Home Health Aides Gambled, Vacationed Instead of Providing Services

A group of St. Louis-based home health aides are accused of falsifying Medicaid timesheets for personal care services when they were actually gambling, vacationing or performing work elsewhere, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In total, six home health care workers and patients were charged with making false statements.

“Home health care is not only a more convenient alternative to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), it also saves tax dollars because it is less expensive,” William Woods, special agent in charge, FBI St. Louis Division, said in a statement. “People who abuse and cheat the system siphon money away from those who truly need the services.”

Regina Brown, 58,and James Smith, 75, were indicted on charges of three felony counts of making false statements to Medicaid that Brown received Medicaid-funded care from Smith at Brown’s home. During the dates on the Medicaid timesheet, Brown was actually vacationing in New Orleans and on a cruise ship, according to the DOJ.

Benita Bell, 46, and Tammara Bell, 28, were charged with making four false statements on Medicaid timesheets. Benita Bell said she received home health care, when in reality, she was actually gambling at a local casino or working as a caregiver providing others with personal care and other health care services, according to the DOJ.

Nova Paden, 50, and Demagio Smith, 27, were indicted on charges for five felony counts of false statements on Medicaid timesheets. The DOJ alleges that both Paden and Smith were working other jobs during the timeframes they claimed to be receiving or providing home health care at Paden’s home. Smith was also in New Jersey and California on some of the days [he] claimed on a Medicaid timesheet that Paden received or provided home health care.

Paden also allegedly previously filed for disability payments from the Social Security Administration but failed to report income from her jobs, according to the DOJ.

Each false statement charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000, according to the DOJ. The cases were investigated by the FBI, the Offices of Inspector General for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration, and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

Written by Amy Baxter

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