Wednesday, March 24, 2010

AG Arrests Six for 1,600+ Fraudulent Medi-Cal Claims

Posted By CotoBlogzz 03-24-2010 04:00 PM

Los Angeles-Attorney General  announced yesterday the arrests of six former employees of New Beginnings Recovery Treatment Center Inc., a Los Angeles-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, who "stole tens of thousands of dollars" from Medi-Cal by billing the state for drug treatment sessions that were never performed. The maximum sentence for conviction on both felonies is three years in state prison. Bail has been set at $68,000 for Tatyana Yakovenko and at $40,000 for the other five defendants.

Between July 1, 2005 and May 30, 2009, New Beginnings owner Tatyana Yakovenko and her associates submitted 1,642 fraudulent claims totaling more than $68,000 to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP.)

Under a contract established with the Los Angeles County Alcohol and Drug Programs Administration, New Beginnings provided alcohol and drug treatment services to Medi-Cal patients. Certified as a Substance Abuse Clinic in January 2002, New Beginnings operated four treatment centers in Los Angeles County.

In late 2008, the AG's office launched an investigation into allegations that New Beginnings was submitting false Medi-Cal claims to ADP.

The AG's investigation found that New Beginnings owner Tatyana Yakovenko and five members of the center's upper management required therapists and group counselors to "ghost write" counseling sessions that were never performed and forge group therapy sign-in sheets. The investigation uncovered that as many as half of the Medi-Cal claims filed by New Beginnings were fraudulent.

The investigation also revealed that several patients who were enrolled in the program did not have a drug problem, and many of their drug tests were fabricated to ensure continued and unnecessary treatment. New Beginnings employees enticed adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries to enroll in the organization's drug counseling program by offering cigarettes, food, and assistance with Section 8 housing qualification.

The majority of treatment and group notes were stored on computers, which made it easy to cut and paste and change the names of the clients. Counselors were instructed to occasionally create a "crisis," which meant a dirty drug test or a situation that warranted a client's continued drug treatment.

Additionally, investigators determined that some counselors were ordered to enter treatment records for 120 clients when only 40 clients were actually receiving treatment. The average client had four treatment group activities per month, but counselors were pushed to increase the documentation to 20 activities per month.

The six individuals arrested on charges of felony grand theft and filing false Medi-Cal claims include:
- Tatyana Yakovenko, 35, of Beverly Hills,
- Natalya Zvereva, 34, of Sherman Oaks,
- Carlos Villanueva, 38, of Pico Rivera,
- Aleksey Lisitsa, 27, of Los Angeles,
- Jodee A. Wallace, 41, of Granada Hills; and,
- Romalis Conway, 29, of Los Angeles

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