Two Northwest Louisiana residents who owned and ran the Positive Change Counseling Agency LLC were indicted for improperly billing Medicaid for almost $8 million, in addition to paying kickbacks in violation of the law.

U.S. Attorney David Joseph’s office announced the indictment Monday.

The owner and operator of Positive Change, Marty Johnson, 57, of Shreveport, and the company’s supervisor and business manager, Keesha Dinkins, 42, of Bossier City, Louisiana, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, 47 counts of health care fraud and four counts of wire fraud. Johnson also faces one count of paying a kickback.

According to the indictment, Positive Change billed Medicaid $7,992,347 for psychiatric therapy, transportation, and other related mental health services from January 2014 to December 2018 that were never provided. In order to execute the scheme, Johnson and his employees recruited clients to receive mental health and related services.

Johnson then paid some of these clients kickbacks in exchange for enrolling in certain programs. Johnson also obtained Medicaid identification numbers from potential clients and their family members and, without the potential clients’ authorization, billed Medicaid for services that were not rendered.

In billing Medicaid, Johnson and Dinkins: (i) created false documents showing that Positive Change provided services that were not rendered; (ii) falsely listed employees with graduate and advanced educational degrees as service providers in order to trigger a higher rate of payment from Medicaid; and (iii) used false, fabricated and exaggerated mental health diagnoses in order to obtain additional payments from Medicaid.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for each count of conspiracy, health care fraud and wire fraud. Johnson also faces 10 years in prison for illegal kickbacks. Both defendants also faces up to five years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution. Arraignment is scheduled for September 10, 2019.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the FBI; and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl M. Campbell and Cadesby Cooper are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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