Director, Administrator of N.J. Medicaid Clinic Ordered to Perform Community Service in Attempted Theft

December 8, 2003

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that a program director and administrator of a Camden County outpatient mental health clinic have been ordered to perform community service for reportedly inflating more than $13,000 worth of patient billings submitted to the Medicaid Program. The Medicaid Program is funded by the state and federal governments and provides health care services and prescription drugs to persons who may not otherwise be able to afford such services and medicines.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, Patrick Traynor, 61, of Abington, Pa., and Maria Carmen Cruz, 39, of Philadelphia, were each sentenced by Camden County Superior Court Judge Irvin Snyder to three years probation and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service. Additionally, Judge Snyder barred Traynor and Cruz from participating in the Medicaid Program for five years.

Gooden Brown noted that Traynor, the Program Director of the New Hopes of New Jersey mental health clinic located at 328 Market St., Camden, and Cruz, employed as the clinic administrator, were indicted by a State Grand Jury on March 13 on charges of Medicaid Fraud. Both Traynor and Cruz pleaded guilty to the Medicaid Fraud charges.

In pleading guilty, Traynor reportedly admitted that from March through June, 1999, at the direction of the owners of New Hopes, he prepared fraudulent patient progress notes for counseling sessions which never occurred. At her guilty plea hearing, Cruz reportedly admitted that from May through October, 1999, to submitting more than $13,000 in fraudulent invoices to the Medicaid Program for payment for mental health counseling and psychological services which were never provided.

The report went on to say that Cruz also admitted that she prepared and filed false billings with Medicaid for mental health counseling services purportedly provided to family members during group sessions. In fact, no such sessions were provided as family members were treated in single sessions.

Additionally, Medicaid regulations prohibit billing for multiple family members. Cruz also billed for mental health counseling sessions rendered to children when no such services were provided.

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