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Hospice owner pleads guilty to $13M fraud

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

A Cleveland woman has pled guilty to defrauding the United States by operating multiple fraudulent hospice programs and submitting fraudulent claims.

Charline Brandon of Cleveland, Mississippi, pled guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Commit Healthcare Fraud for her role in collecting Medicare and Medicaid payments from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Mississippi State Division of Medicaid for the fraudulent hospice claims.

Evidence submitted at the change of plea hearing showed that Brandon owned and operated a series of Hospice organizations headquartered in Cleveland, Mississippi, including Haven Hospice, North Haven Hospice, Lion Hospice, and North Lion Hospice.

Brandon admitted that she fraudulently submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid for hospice services that were not medically necessary or that were not provided to the hospice patients as claimed. She further admitted that she illegally recruited patients who were not hospice-eligible.

“This sham hospice provider exploited the most vulnerable in our society while stealing millions from our health care system,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in Atlanta. “This is one of the largest and most egregious hospice schemes I have seen in Mississippi. The OIG will continue to identify the individuals committing these crimes and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

During the hearing, the government alleged that Brandon submitted more than $11 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare and more than $2 million in fraudulent claims to Medicaid.

“Hospice is designed for end of life care to care for our most vulnerable people, not for personal gain. Unfortunately, this defendant was billing the taxpayers for patients who were not terminal. It is our duty to make sure our tax dollars are not stolen so there is money available to care for those who are terminally ill.” Attorney General Jim Hood said. “Joint investigations such as this one are key to protecting our healthcare system.”

This case was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office and prosecuted by AUSA Clay Dabbs.

“In addition to helping to protect victims and those vulnerable members of our society, another part of our mission and goal is to protect our taxpayer dollars from those who would steal and misuse them,’ said U.S. Attorney William C. Lamar. ‘The United States Attorney’s Office will always seek to hold accountable those individuals who victimize our citizens and steal those resources designed to help them.”

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