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A Gaston County woman spent her Halloween in federal court.
Joanna Patronis, 41, of Gastonia was sentenced to 15 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for her role in a scheme to defraud North Carolina Medicaid.
In court Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. also
order Patronis to pay $2,742,337 in restitution and to forfeit
$46,857.57 in funds seized during the investigation, a 2010 Toyota
Rav-4, and her home in Cramerton.
Patronis pleaded guilty in April 2011 to one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud. She was released on bond since entering her guilty plea. She will be ordered to a federal facility.
According to court documents, Patronis and others engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicaid by submitting fraudulent claims for mental and behavioral health services which falsely listed Medicaid-approved providers as the attending clinicians when those providers did not provide those services.
Court documents show sometime around December 2009, Patronis created a company called A Time For Everything (ATE) for the sole purpose of allowing non-approved Medicaid providers to submit claims to Medicaid. Patronis falsely stated to Medicaid that Dr. L.D. a licensed psychologist, was associated with her company, and then submitted false claims to Medicaid indicated Dr. L.D. provided services to ATE clients. Dr. L.D. did not provide those services.
According to court documents, Patronis also engaged in similar activities through a second company called Hope and Family Behavioral Resources (HFBR). Investigators say the owner of HFBR, Giraud Hope, agreed to submit claims through HFBR's Medicaid provider number which falsely listed Dr. L.D. as the attending clinician. Patronis acted as the medical biller for the false claims.
In October 2011, Giraud Hope was sentenced to 15 months in prison for her role in conspiring to commit health care fraud.
If you suspect Medicare or Medicaid fraud, please report it by calling 1-800-447-8477 or email HHSTIPS@OIG.HHS.GOV
To read past WBTV coverage of this case, click here or here.