A private duty nurse was sentenced to a year in prison after being found guilty of New York Medicaid Fraud Charges. Prosecutors say the nurse was supposed to be caring for two severely disabled patients, instead he was jetting round Europe on the taxpayer’s dime.
Collins Anyanwu-Mueller R.N., age 47, was sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution by Westchester County Judge Barry Warhit.
According to court documents, Anyanwu-Mueller bilked the taxpayer funded Medicaid system for nearly five years. Instead of providing round the clock care for his patients, he was busy travelling in Europe. The care of his two patients was left to an unlicensed person. At other times, they were left alone.
Even while out of the country, Anyanwu-Mueller submitted reports and bills indicating he was providing care.
The case was investigated by the New York Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office. In announcing the sentence, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “The Medicaid home care program is meant to provide severely disabled New Yorkers with the care they need. Fraudsters who rip off this vital program by using it as a personal piggy bank will be caught and prosecuted.”
In addition to the year in jail, Anyanwu - Mueller must also pay $392,954.00 in restitution.
New York Medicaid Fraud Whistleblower Awards
Most Medicaid fraud cases in New York are brought to light because of whistleblowers. The New York False Claims Act pays cash awards to whistleblowers who possess inside or “original source” information about Medicaid fraud.
Most Medicaid fraud whistleblowers are healthcare workers. Often billing clerks, clinic directors and other nurses have the best information on these illegal schemes.
The New York False Claims Act awards are based on the amount recovered from wrongdoers. The award is usually 15% to 30% of whatever is recovered. In Nurse Anyanwu-Mueller’s case, that means an award of between $59,000 and $118,000!
Qualifying for an award is easy. Awards are paid for inside information about Medicaid fraud. That includes information related to overbilling, false billing, illegal kickbacks, upcoding, billing for ineligible patients and billing for services that were never delivered or not medically necessary.
The federal government also has a whistleblower award program applicable to the Medicare and Tricare programs.
New York Medicaid Fraud Law Prohibits Retaliation
Many healthcare professionals are reluctant to report fraud. Sadly, a few employers still engage in retaliation. Under the New York False Claims Act law, retaliation is illegal. In fact, healthcare workers reporting New York Medicaid fraud are protected by both state and federal law.
The anti-retaliation provisions of New York law cover both current and former employees and contractors. If you are fired, demoted, lose pay or hours or suffer harassment you may be entitled to damages. Those damages include double back pay, reinstatement, legal fees and other damages. (Click for a complete description of the New York Medicaid fraud whistleblower program.)
Medicaid Fraud Endangers Patient Safety
Collins Anyanwu-Mueller’s actions clearly show that Medicaid fraud is not just an economic crime. Obviously, stealing from Medicaid means stealing from taxpayers. The harm is much more extensive, however.
Nurse Anyanwu-Mueller was paid to care for two severely disabled patients. Although he was paid to provide that care, he was often vacationing or simply not there. The patients were left to suffer. The court records show that either no one was with the patients or that Anyanwu-Mueller sent an unlicensed person in his place.
Medicaid fraud is not a victimless crime. Both taxpayers and patients deserve better.
See if You Qualify for an Award
Do you have information about New York Medicaid Fraud? Please contact us today. Awards are generally only paid to the first to report.
If you appear eligible for an award, we will connect you with an attorney who can help with that process. Not eligible for an award? We can still help you connect with the appropriate Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. For more information, contact us online or toll free at 888.742.7248.