AG: Nobles County jury finds woman guilty of defrauding state’s Medicaid program
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has obtained convictions against the former operator of a home care nursing agency in Worthington that defrauded the state’s Medicaid program of more than $1.8 million.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, following a five-day trial — and after deliberating for just over two hours — a Nobles County jury found Remona Lysa Brown guilty of 14 felony counts of aiding and abetting theft by false representation. Brown was the sole managing employee of the Minnesota branch of Caring & Compassionate Healthcare Agency (CCHA), a home care nursing agency that also had a location in Lansing, Michigan.
"My office is dedicated to fighting Medicaid fraud because it’s a terrible crime: it defrauds vulnerable people of the compassionate care they deserve to live with dignity and respects, and it defrauds them and all Minnesotans of the money they pay to support that care," Ellison said. "I’m proud of the team that won this important conviction. It should put anyone on notice who’s even thinking about defrauding vulnerable Minnesotans and Minnesota taxpayers that we will spare no expense in holding them accountable."
From 2012 to 2015, CCHA defrauded Minnesota’s Medicaid program by:
- Billing for registered nurse and licensed practical nurse services when the services were actually provided by personal care assistants, medical assistants and certified nursing assistants.
- Billing for registered nurse services when the services were actually provided by a licensed practical nurse.
- Billing for services that did not occur, as evidenced by billing for hours far in excess of those documented by a nurse on their timesheet.
- Billing for services that did not occur, as evidenced by no documentation existing to support the service as actually being provided.
At trial, the Attorney General’s Office said Brown’s former employees identified numerous instances of fraud, including the following:
- One LPN testified that when she went to perform nursing services at a client’s home, the client turned her away, telling the LPN that she did not need services. Brown told her to fill out a timesheet reporting that she provided 12 hours of LPN services that day.
- An RN and the mother of a one-year-old client testified that the child only received services during playtime hours and never received overnight services or 24 hours of nursing services in one day. At trial, the jury saw a timesheet from this RN where she documented providing six hours of RN services to the child on a specific day, while Brown billed for 24 hours of services provided.
- Another RN testified that she was told by Brown her duties to do whatever housekeeping tasks the client wanted, including washing her walls at a client’s house. Employee timesheets indicated that tasks performed at the client’s home included such activities. Brown billed for RN services on these dates.
In total, nearly 6,000 fraudulent claims were submitted over a three-year period. Many of the proceeds of this fraudulent billing were deposited in bank accounts in Michigan controlled by Brown’s family members, who sent some proceeds back to Brown, according to a release.
Immediately following the verdict, Nobles County District Judge Sherry Haley ordered Brown remanded to custody. Before sentencing, Haley will consider the existence of aggravating factors sought by the state that would increase Brown’s potential sentence beyond that authorized by the Minnesota sentencing guidelines.
Brown will be sentenced on June 24. In addition, Brown also faces criminal charges in Michigan related to her alleged role in a criminal enterprise involving illegitimate opioid prescriptions.