Care providers in Spokane, Okanogan charged with cheating public health program
SPOKANE — Assistant Attorney General Dannette Allen and a team of investigators and support staff spend their days combing through bank records, computer records, sworn statements and tips from whistleblowers. Their goal: To find those fraudulently using the state’s Medicaid program as an income source.
Allen is part of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), a statewide team whose job it’s been since 1978 to identify and prosecute those who defraud the taxpayer-funded program. She and her colleagues are busy prosecuting people like Spokane’s Paige Clark for, as charging documents allege, cheating the system.
Clark was arraigned Monday on two Medicaid fraud-related charges. According to investigators, she billed the state for more than $7,000 over a six-month period in 2007, purportedly to care for a wheelchair-bound Medicaid recipient. Documents filed by the state show that in December 2007, for example, Clark claimed the state owed her for 188 hours of care. However, court documents show that Clark quit her job as a care provider on Dec. 6, 2007. She would have worked for six days and nights – without sleeping – in order to come close to accounting for those hours.
Investigator Amy Rose interviewed several witnesses. One told her that the Medicaid client, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, brain and spine injuries, was found on the street in front of her apartment on Christmas Eve 2007. She was sent to the hospital with a broken leg. No care provider was found at the scene.
Clark is charged with first-degree theft and making a false statement to Medicaid. Her trial begins Feb. 2 in Spokane County Court.
She’s not the only one in court.
Mary Mathis, of Okanogan, is charged with bilking Medicaid by submitting invoices on behalf of her daughter — a former care provider — and directing the payments to her own address. She then endorsed and cashed several checks.
Mathis is also accused of fraudulently charging the state for time spent caring for her father, a Medicaid recipient, while state investigators say they can prove she was elsewhere. All told, Mathis allegedly made off with more than $10,000 in Medicaid money.
Mathis will be arraigned Nov. 19 in Okanogan County Court on one count of first-degree theft, seven counts of making a false statement to Medicaid, and six counts of forgery — for endorsing her daughter’s checks.
Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725