Fla. AG Notes Arrests of 3 Women in Medicaid Scams

February 4, 2005

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist and Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer announced the arrests of three people in two separate cases in which the defendants are accused of defrauding Florida’s Medicaid program by billing for services that were not actually provided.

The three Palm Beach County residents were arrested by law enforcement officers with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit following investigations by that office and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

In the first case, a home care health and medical supplies provider is accused of submitting claims for 15 Medicaid recipients for home care visits and medical supplies that they never received. Neglaga Onesmus Asphipala, also known as Patricia Ann Major, 60, of Riviera Beach was charged with one count of grand theft.

An audit of Asphipala’s billing practices uncovered more than 1,600 claims submitted to the state in violation of policies governing the Medicaid program, resulting in overpayments of some $58,946. Further investigation of recipients and other witnesses uncovered an additional $1,800 in fraudulent claims to the state.

In the second case, two drivers for a medical transportation company are charged with defrauding the state Medicaid program by falsely submitting bills to take patients to non-existent medical appointments.

Gloria Thompson, 48, of Delray Beach, and Joyce Khan, 51, of Lake Worth, are employees of Palm Beach Transportation, a non-ambulatory transportation provider. The company bills Medicaid when its drivers provide transportation services to individuals, and in turn pay the drivers for each trip made based on completed “trip tickets” submitted by the drivers.

Thompson and Khan are accused of defrauding Medicaid by submitting trip tickets to drive patients to and from health care appointments for trips they did not actually make. Without a corresponding appointment and billing to health care services at a clinic or hospital, transportation services would have been unnecessary.

An audit of Palm Beach Transportation’s billing practices uncovered at least 449 transportation claims to the state that had no corresponding medical claim or service, yielding an overpayment of approximately $13,000.

All three women were booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on $3,000 bond and will be prosecuted by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office.

If convicted of the third-degree felony grand theft charge, Asphipala faces up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Thompson was charged with eleven counts of Medicaid fraud while Khan was charged with two counts; the crime is a third-degree felony carrying a maximum of five years in prison and $5,000 fine for each count.

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