Charlotte man pleads guilty to $3.1 million Medicaid fraud

slyttle@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 7, 2014 

A Charlotte man has pleaded guilty to trying to defraud the government of more than $3.4 million in phony mental health services, federal prosecutors say.

Ronnie Lorenzo Robinson, 36, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to two counts of health care fraud.

Prosecutors say Robinson admitted he had schemed to defraud Medicaid by turning in reimbursement claims for mental and behavioral health services. Those claims came through Peaceful Alternative Services Inc., a company Robinson owned that operated from offices in Charlotte, Mooresville and Greensboro.

Investigators claim Robinson used the money in part to buy luxury vehicles and jewelry.

“The money Robinson stole from Medicaid was intended to cover the medical expenses of needy North Carolinians, including children, not to fund the defendant’s penchant for cars and jewelry,” said U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins.

Prosecutors said Robinson received about $3.1 million in payments from Medicaid.

During the investigation, law enforcement officers reported seizing a fleet of vehicles – a 2004 Land Rover; a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban; a 2007 Mercedes S550; and a 1.6-carat oval ladies diamond ring.

Agents also seized a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle, a 2006 Chrysler 300 and about $660,000 in funds, according to prosecutors.

According to court documents, Robinson used the Medicaid provider numbers of at least three licensed clinicians who performed some work for his company. With those numbers, he allegedly sought reimbursement for services that the counselors did not provide.

Although employees of Peaceful Alternative Services sometimes provided services for Medicaid recipients, the services typically were not provided by licensed professionals, prosecutors alleged. In addition, the government alleged, Robinson’s company often provided little more than mentoring services, which Medicaid does not reimburse.

“Fraud like this hurts patients who really need care, wastes tax dollars, and drives up health care costs for everyone,” N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper said.

Robinson faces a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of health care fraud, prosecutors said. A sentencing date has not been set, but prosecutors say Robinson has agreed to pay full restitution to Medicaid. That amount also has not been determined.

North Carolina’s Medicaid Investigations Division and the FBI handled the investigation.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle

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