Donald Morse of Bennington, Vermont is a lucky man. Twice arrested for burglary, he returned to court the week before Christmas and received just two years of probation for his role in a $100,000 Medicaid fraud scheme. His father, 64-year-old Patrick Morse, wasn’t so lucky. He was sentenced to two to six years of prison. Not to be left out of the family business, Donald’s mother, Ellie May” received three years of probation.
Morse Family Business – Medicaid Fraud
Prosecutors claim that Patrick and Ellie May Morse were the masterminds behind a Medicaid fraud scheme in Vermont. The husband and wife couple submitted more than $100,000 of reimbursement claims to the Vermont Medicaid Children’s Personal Care Services (PCS) program. Designed to help kids with serious health or disabilities, PCS allows eligible kids to receive healthcare services in their home.
The criminal complaints against the three say that Patrick and Ellie hired their son, another family member and an acquaintance to provide PCS to certain eligible kids. Even though Medicaid was billed for the services, often they were not performed.
The second family member and acquaintance may not have been aware of the phony charges. They were not charged but Donald was charged because he knowingly allowed false claims in his name to be submitted for reimbursement. His role in the fraud resulted in three felony convictions.
Donald’s father, Patrick, was convicted of 9 Medicaid fraud related counts. He also received the longest sentence despite having a cleaner record than his son. That is probably because he received the bulk of the money from the scheme.
The three Morse family members will have to pay back the state for the monies they stole. Even though there is little evidence to show that Donald received any of the Medicaid reimbursement checks, a Vermont Superior Court judge ordered him to pay $9,329 in restitution.
All three family members are also suspended from participating in Vermont’s Medicaid program.
Vermont’s False Claims Act Pays Whistleblower Awards
Vermont is one of most recent states to pass a whistleblower award law. Called the Vermont False Claims Act, whistleblowers with information about Medicaid fraud can receive an award equal up to 30% of whatever is recovered from wrongdoers. In a case like the Morse family, the award could be substantial.
Vermont Medicaid fraud whistleblower awards can quickly mount because the law provides for triple damages and big fines. It is too early to determine the average size award in Vermont, but using other states as a gauge, awards in other states are frequently in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Claiming a Vermont Whistleblower Award
Collecting an award in Vermont means hiring a lawyer and filing a secret (“sealed”) complaint in state court. To file such a complaint, one needs inside knowledge of fraud involving the state financed Medicaid program. Awards are also available from the U.S. Department of Justice since the federal government contributes to Vermont’s Medicaid program.
Insiders with knowledge of healthcare fraud and mismanagement have several choices. They can ignore the greed and fraud going on in front of them, call the state’s toll free hotline or call a lawyer and file a sealed False Claims Act case. Only those who filed a sealed lawsuit are eligible to receive the large percentage awards.
Interested in a large award but don’t have a lawyer? The Coalition can help. Call our operators at 888.742.7248. They will have a lawyer call you back with 1 business day. No cost. No obligation.
Lawyers that handle Vermont Medicaid fraud whistleblower cases usually charge on a contingent fee basis. That means no legal fees or costs unless they collect money for you.
Medicaid fraud costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually. Without your tips, prosecutors and will never be able to stop these frauds.
Whistleblowers provide a valuable public service by alerting authorities to fraud, misconduct and poor patient care. Sometimes they even save lives, especially when the fraud involves unnecessary medical services.
Not quite ready to call? Learn more about Vermont Medicare fraud or use or SUBMIT form.