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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2006
McKenna boosts Eastern Washington Medicaid Fraud Investigative team


OLYMPIA… Attorney General Rob McKenna and Tony Rugel, head of the new Eastern Washington Medicaid Fraud Unit, today announced two new investigators will join the team on July 1.

“We know that between 30 and 40 percent of our Medicaid fraud cases are filed in Eastern Washington,” McKenna said. “It’s time to build on that success by increasing the number of investigators and making those investigators easily accessible to people in Eastern Washington.”

The Attorney General’s Office will welcome to the Eastern Washington Medicaid Fraud Unit Grant Collins, who currently works as an Investigator 3 for the Spokane Consumer Protection Division.

“Grant has worked as the lead investigator on hundreds of cases, covering areas of civil, criminal and regulatory law,” McKenna said. “He has the desirable combination of prior experience with the Attorney General’s Office, law enforcement background and involvement in his community. We’re proud to welcome him to the MFCU team.”

The office has also hired Larry Carlier, a U.S. Postal Inspector with 24 years experience in the enforcement and investigation of postal laws and offenses, audits and protection of U.S. Postal Service assets, employees and customers. He was president of the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators from 1999 to 2003.

“Larry brings to our office immense expertise in both government and law enforcement,” McKenna said. “This expertise is ideal as we expand the MFCU’s investigatory team in Eastern Washington. Tony has a highly qualified team to help bring fraud perpetrators to justice.”

Over the last year, the MFCU successfully prosecuted 24 cases, two of which were resident abuse cases and 22 were Medicaid fraud cases.

The unit filed charges against a Spokane woman in December for defrauding the state Medicaid program. Sandra Christiansen, owner and president of First Choice Health Services, Inc., was charged with 17 counts of theft in the first degree for billing and receiving roughly $83,000 in payments for skilled nurse care, when no care or a lesser level of nurse care was provided. The case is currently scheduled to go to trial in August.

In addition to state prosecutions and settlements, MFCU personnel led a number of national investigations and prosecutions resulting in the return of hundreds of millions of dollars to state and the District of Columbia’s Medicaid programs. The MFCU has personnel in Tacoma, Olympia and Spokane, but the Attorney General’s Office is increasing its presence in Eastern Washington to improve access and enhance the unit’s ability to investigate charges of provider fraud and resident abuse.

The Attorney General secured an additional $150,000 in state funds and $450,000 in federal funds to acquire office space and add another prosecutor, support staff and as many as three more investigators to the unit in July 2006.

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Contact:
Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725, janelleg@atg.wa.gov

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