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For Immediate Release
June 27, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

OWNERS 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 conspiracy.

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 Subsequent to the conviction, his medical license was revoked by the Maryland Board of Physicians, and he was excluded from working for facilities that receive funds from Medicare or Medicaid programs.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 of billings 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 Office.

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.

   

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