Health Care

Four popped for alleged Medicaid fraud

AG says Medicaid billed for services while beneficiaries were on Caribbean cruise.

If Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s investigators got it right, this is yet another case of how dumb can you be.

Caldwell announced April 30 that four individuals were arrested after an investigation conducted by agents with his Medicaid Fraud Control Unit found that the state’s Medicaid Program was billed for in-home personal care services while the people who were supposed to be receiving care were actually on a Caribbean cruise.

Breonna L. Diggs, 23, of Boutte, and her mother, Yvette M. Diggs, 44, of Luling, were each charged with two counts of Medicaid fraud after investigators with Caldwell’s office found that the women defrauded the Medicaid program by submitting fraudulent claims for medical services never rendered.

According to a press release from the AG’s office:

Breonna Diggs worked as a personal care attendant providing in-home care services to her mother and brother. Breonna Diggs is accused of submitting false timesheets and service logs for payment to her employer indicating that she was providing personal care services to her mother and brother on numerous occasions between Jan. 21-Jan. 26, 2013 when she was actually attending school in Houston, Texas. Furthermore, investigators revealed that during that same time period, Breonna Diggs submitted claims for payment while her mother and brother were on a cruise to the Caribbean. Upon returning from the cruise, Yvette Diggs signed off on service logs for herself and her son, as if they were both at home receiving caregiver services from Breonna Diggs.

Also arrested were Denene R. Thomas, 50, and her brother Fernandez Robertson, Jr., 59, both of Hahnville, on a single count each of Medicaid Fraud. Thomas worked for a Medicaid provider as a personal care attendant providing in-home care services to her older brother, Robertson. Thomas is accused of billing the Medicaid Program for approximately 19 hours of caregiver services during the six-day period when Robertson was also out of town on the same cruise with Yvette Diggs. Robertson signed service logs verifying he received care from his sister during the dates and times he was on board the vacation cruise line.

Caldwell says personal care attendants are hired by Medicaid providers to care for physically handicapped or elderly Medicaid recipients. They provide caregiver services such as cooking, grooming and bathing.

All four individuals were arrested Wednesday by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit with assistance from the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and were transported to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for booking.

To report suspected Medicaid fraud, call (888) 799-6885.