Olympia -6.19.03- The owner of the Branch Villa and Merry Haven nursing homes entered a guilty plea today in King County Superior Court to a criminal charge stemming from misusing resident trust funds.
Andrew L. Branch pleaded guilty to the charge of Failure to Maintain Trust Funds in Separate Account after an investigation by the Attorney General's Office revealed that money was diverted from resident trust funds on 48 occasions to pay the facilities' operating expenses. All of the residents' funds used in the transfers, which totaled $396,150, were eventually returned to the patient accounts.
In addition, Branch Villa Health Care Center, Inc., through its attorney, entered a guilty plea to the crime of Medicaid False Statement for reporting $459,424 in costs for Medicaid reimbursement that the facilities had not actually paid to goods and service providers.
The state's investigation began after a routine audit by the Department of Social and Health Services' Nursing Home Rate Section prompted a referral to the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Failure to Maintain Trust Funds in Separate Account is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Medicaid False Statement is a Class C Felony, punishable by five years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled in King County Superior Court on August 15.