June 27, 2006
OF BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMPANY CHARGED WITH DEFRAUDING MEDICAID PROGRAM
OF MORE THAN THREE MILLION DOLLARS
Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announces that
two owners of a Baltimore City mental health company, who are alleged
to have defrauded the Maryland Medicaid program of more than three
million dollars over a seventeen-month period, have been indicted
on multiple counts of felony Medicaid fraud and theft.
Guy Bell, 43, of the 2700 block of Tallow Tree Drive in Woodstock,
and Robin Carroll-El, 50, of the 5700 block of Fieldview Court
in Baltimore, each had an ownership interest in The Bridges Project,
LLC (“Bridges”), a psychiatric rehabilitation program
(“PRP”) company that was located at 1603 St. Paul
Street in Baltimore City. PRP services are designed to provide
counseling that assists at-risk individuals, frequently children,
who have some type of mental health difficulty that impedes their
ability to properly function in their home, school, or community.
Bridges served eligible Medicaid recipients located mainly in
Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.
It is alleged that from November 2002 through April 2004, Bridges
submitted tens of thousands of false claims to Medicaid representing
that the company had provided PRP services that it had not actually
performed. Bell and Carroll-El are charged with nine counts each
of felony Medicaid fraud and theft, as well as one count each of
Bell has also been charged in a twenty-four-count indictment with
defrauding Medicaid by billing the program for therapy services
that were not actually rendered. Those charges arise from an investigation
of Dr. James Nguyen, a psychiatrist who pled guilty in June of
2005 in Baltimore City Circuit Court to one count of felony Medicaid
fraud for allowing Bridges to bill for therapy services under his
individual Medicaid provider number, even though he was not himself
performing the service. Judge Wanda K. Heard sentenced Dr. Nguyen
to five years incarceration, with all but 18 months suspended,
and five years supervised probation. Dr. Nguyen paid $100,000 at
sentencing toward a restitution order of $305,000. Subsequent to
the conviction, his medical license was revoked by the Maryland
Board of Physicians, and he was excluded from working for facilities
that receive funds from Medicare or Medicaid programs.
Based on the investigation of Dr. Nguyen, the State
expects to prove that Bell ordered the submission of thousands
to Medicaid under Dr. Nguyen’s provider number for services
that were not rendered, and that could not have been rendered,
because Bridges did not have enough therapists on staff to see
all the patients for whom it was billing Medicaid.
The case is being prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud
Control Unit (MFCU) of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. MFCU conducted
the investigation with assistance from the Mental Hygiene Administration
(MHA), which suspended payments to Bridges in April of 2004. MHA
has been working with the MFCU to root out fraud in its programs,
and several cases of possible fraudulent behavior by MHA providers
are currently under investigation by the Attorney General’s
While an indictment is only an accusation and all persons are
presumed innocent unless proven guilty, a charge of felony Medicaid
fraud is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison
and a $100,000 fine. Felony theft is punishable by a maximum sentence
of 15 years and a fine of $25,000.
An arraignment date has been set in Baltimore City Circuit Court
for July 21, 2006. Bail has been set for both defendants at $100,000.