News Briefs

Brandon woman charged with Medicaid fraud

BRANDON — Federal authorities on Wednesday, June 22, arrested a Brandon woman as part of a national health care fraud crackdown.

The Office of the U.S. Attorney in Burlington said the 36-year-old Misti Baker was involved in Medicaid fraud, and that a federal judged had ordered that she be jailed pending a detention hearing on Friday.

On June 8, a federal grand jury in Rutland returned an indictment charging Baker with health care fraud. According to the indictment, Baker defrauded the state of Vermont’s Children’s Personal Care Services (CPCS) program. CPCS, which is jointly funded by federal and Vermont Medicaid dollars, is designed to provide supplemental assistance with self-care and activities of daily living to Medicaid-eligible children with significant disabilities or health conditions. Three of Baker’s children qualified for the CPCS program.

According to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Eric S. Miller, the indictment alleges that Baker submitted false time sheets and diverted funds for her own use, rather than obtaining supplemental assistance for her children. The indictment charges Baker with submitting false time sheets and fraudulently diverting approximately $77,307 in health care funds.

Miller emphasized that the charges in the indictment are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until she is proven guilty.

If convicted, Baker faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

Baker was arrested Wednesday as part of a nation-wide initiative to combat health care fraud. More than 30 federal districts, from Alaska to Florida, unveiled charges against approximately 300 defendants who participated in a variety of schemes that involved more than $900 million of fraud.

Miller commended the investigative efforts of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Boston Regional Office, and the Vermont Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

“Health care fraud is not an abstract or victimless crime,” Miller said. “The defendants pursued by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services in this operation have allegedly enriched themselves by stealing taxpayer money designated to help people who are most in need.”

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