OLYMPIA – Diana Esterly and Shawn Gronau, of Pierce County, were arraigned yesterday in Pierce County Superior Court, accused of overbilling the Medicaid program.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) last month filed three counts of first degree theft against Esterly and two counts against Gronau. Gronau, who is Esterly’s niece, faces an additional four counts of fraud related to false statements made to Medicaid administrators. Prosecutors at the Attorney General’s Office regularly prosecute those who make such false statement in an attempt to bilk the state and federally funded healthcare program.
Esterly is charged with receiving Medicaid payments for services she didn’t provide to three developmentally disabled adults. Gronau is charged with billing Medicaid for three hours of work for every hour of care that she provided, contrary to her Medicaid Care Provider contract.
According to charging documents filed by the Attorney General’s Office, Gronau told investigators, “I honestly thought that I was able to claim all three kids per hour.” However, rules for Medicaid providers, communicated in writing, require payments per the hour, not per-recipient.
As a result of fraudulent billing, Esterly received nearly $19,000 and Gronau received over $12,000 in money they were not eligible to receive. The case is scheduled for trial on Oct. 8.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Dannette Allen, with support from Investigator Jeff Hartley and Legal Assistant Margo Loree.
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725