Nine indicted in Zachary Medicaid fraud scheme

The state Attorney General’s Office announced Monday the arrest of seven out of nine people indicted in a Medicaid fraud scheme involving a Zachary business.

Steven Hartmann, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said an audit by the state Department of Health and Human Services revealed Empowering Care Services LLC fraudulently billed Medicaid for services that were never rendered by caregivers who were hired with either no criminal background check or a positive criminal background check over a three-year period.

The audit also found that owner Chanda Hall, 36, made illegal payments to Medicaid recipients — though Hartmann said he could not say why those payments were made — kept false records and funneled the ill-gotten money into other businesses, violating the Louisiana Racketeering Act, Hartmann said.

Those indicted were:

  • Hall, 7055 Villere Drive, Baker, on Medicaid fraud, filing false public records, fraudulent remuneration, racketeering and conspiracy to commit Medicaid fraud and racketeering.
  • Tamara Despenza, 38, 9448 Red Wood Lake Blvd., Zachary, a biller and direct service worker, on Medicaid fraud and filing false public records.
  • Sherman Brickley, 40, 9448 Red Wood Lake Blvd., Zachary, a direct service worker, on Medicaid fraud and filing false public records.
  • Chiquita Brown, 34, 17441 Omega Court, Baker, a direct service worker, on Medicaid fraud, filing false public records, fraudulent remuneration and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
  • Jerritt Bowie, 40, 17441 Omega Court, Baker, a direct service worker, on Medicaid fraud and filing false public records.
  • Weston Evans, 35, 5245 Bank St., Baton Rouge, a Medicaid recipient on fraudulent remuneration and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
  • Lillie Evans, 60, 5245 Bank St., Baton Rouge, a Medicaid recipient, on fraudulent remuneration and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
  • St. Theresa Boulanger, 66, 2022 N. Lobdell, Apt. 3, Baton Rouge, an employee and Medicaid recipient, on fraudulent remuneration and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
  • Shirley Horton, 77, 4210 La. 956, Ethel, a Medicaid recipient, on fraudulent remuneration and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

All but Boulanger and Horton have been arrested. Hartmann said Boulanger and Horton are expected to be arrested soon.