COO gets 2 years in prison for $4M North Carolina behavioral health fraud

Sharita Richardson, former COO of Raleigh, N.C.-based behavioral health company Group Service, was sentenced to 22 months in prison and three years of supervised release in a $4 million Medicaid fraud case, the Justice Department said May 25.

Ms. Richardson was also ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution to the North Carolina Fund for Medical Assistance, the department said.

Between 2012 and 2016, Ms. Richardson conspired with others, including Group Service's owner Antonio Fozard, to submit more than $4 million in fraudulent reimbursement claims for behavioral health services that were not rendered, the department said.

Mr. Fozard owned multiple behavioral health companies that claimed to provide services to Medicaid beneficiaries in North Carolina, the department said. Each company systematically stole from Medicaid through fraudulent billing.

Group Service employed two people to canvas low-income neighborhoods for eligible Medicaid recipients, the department said. They collected Medicaid identification numbers and other personal information, which was used for the company's fraudulent claims.

Additional employees were tasked with fabricating supporting documents in the event of an audit, the department said. Ms. Richardson assisted Mr. Fozard in the daily operations of what the Justice Department referred to as a criminal enterprise.

Mr. Fozard is scheduled for sentencing on or after July 20.

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