Defendant billed Medicaid more than $600,000 for new wheelchairs, actually provided used ones
OLYMPIA — In a case brought by the Attorney General, the owner of a wheelchair company that fraudulently delivered 119 used or refurbished wheelchairs to the poor and disabled across the state was convicted on felony charges Sept. 25 in Thurston County Superior Court.
Michael Mann, the Seattle-based owner of Wheelchairs Plus, Inc., pleaded guilty as charged to one count of Theft in the First Degree and two counts of Medicaid False Statement. He billed the state Medicaid program for delivering new wheelchairs to Medicaid clients when in fact the wheelchairs were used or refurbished.
“It is deplorable that fraudsters take advantage of the most vulnerable among us for financial gain,” said Attorney General Ferguson. “My office will hold healthcare providers accountable when they fail to provide adequate care for vulnerable people and commit Medicaid fraud.”
Mann will face up to nine months in custody for the theft when he is sentenced on Nov. 13, 2014. The Attorney General’s Office will recommend that the court sentence Mann to nine months in jail.
The conviction follows an investigation by the AGO’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit prompted by a worker’s tip. Jeff Hartley led the MCFU investigation. Assistant Attorney General Marty Raap is prosecuting the case.
The AGO has also filed a civil case against Mann alleging that he collected over $600,000 in fraudulent payments. That civil case was filed separately by AAG Steve Dietrich in Thurston County Superior Court.
AGO investigators alleged in the Statement for Determination of Probable Cause that from 2006-2012, the defendant purchased previously used wheelchairs from websites such as craigslist.org or from nursing homes. The defendant would then refurbish each chair with a new coat of paint or replacement parts and placed a new label or serial number on it.
After the defendant delivered the used wheelchair to a Medicaid client, he submitted a false claim to the state Medicaid Program saying that he had provided a new wheelchair.
Medicaid Fraud Control in Washington
The Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of healthcare provider fraud committed against the state’s Medicaid program. The unit also coordinates with local law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect in cases involving vulnerable adults residing in Medicaid-funded residential facilities.
State Medicaid authorities, including the Health Care Authority and Department of Social and Health Services, assisted significantly in the fraud enforcement of these matters.
The DSHS Office of Fraud & Accountability investigates client fraud. You can report Medicaid Client Fraud via the Department’s Online Complaint Form, call the Welfare Fraud Hotline at 1-800-562-6906 or send the complaint to Welfare Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 45817, Olympia, Washington 98504-5817.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Contact: Alison Dempsey-Hall, Acting Communications Director