Three accused of defrauding Medicaid program

A Zachary woman accused of defrauding Louisiana’s Medicaid program allegedly paid life insurance premiums for one program recipient and her children and made cash payments to another recipient in exchange for their selection of Baton Rouge personal care agency.

Sekari Washington Davis, 36, and the two Medicaid recipients — Alfren Paynes, of Baton Rouge, and Lasonia Branch, of St. Francisville — were indicted on state charges Thursday as a result of a joint state and federal investigation into Distinctive Healthcare Services LLC on South Harrell’s Ferry Road.

The company closed in February, the same month Davis was arrested.

In addition to alleging Davis paid kickbacks to Medicaid recipients, an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury alleged she billed for services during periods of time when some Medicaid recipients were incarcerated, and hired convicted felons who were ineligible to work for the Medicaid program under state law.

Davis is accused of defrauding the state’s Medicaid program out of thousands of dollars and laundering more than $100,000 through her company, Distinctive Healthcare Services.

Her attorney, Tedrick Knightshead, declined comment Friday.

In a prepared statement, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said state and federal agents discovered Davis was using a variety of fraudulent tactics to illegally siphon money from the state’s Medicaid program for her personal gain.

Davis, 3486 Whitehaven Road, was arrested following the joint probe by the state Attorney General’s Office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the FBI.

She is now under indictment on counts of racketeering, money laundering, theft by fraud, criminal conspiracy to commit theft by fraud, false remuneration and filing or maintaining false public records.

Davis’ alleged criminal conduct occurred from mid-2009 until February, the indictment states.

Paynes, 55, 1618 N. 48th St.; and Branch, 47, 10753 Brown Drive, were indicted on counts of criminal conspiracy to commit theft by fraud, filing or maintaining false public records and false remuneration.

An arrest warrant for Davis claims she was fraudulently billing the Louisiana Medicaid Program for services not being rendered.

The false remuneration counts accuse Davis of making cash payments to Paynes in exchange for Paynes selecting Distinctive for Medicaid services. Davis also is accused of paying life insurance premiums for Branch and her children in return for Branch choosing Distinctive for Medicaid services.

Caldwell said Davis, Paynes and Branch also signed fraudulent billing documents submitted for payment to the Medicaid program for services that were not actually rendered.

The racketeering charge accuses Davis of hiring unqualified, untrained, unsupervised and prohibited caretakers, and failing to perform quarterly home visits and provide adequate supervision to ensure that the services were rendered as billed.

The money laundering count accuses Davis of using the proceeds of her alleged criminal activity committed against the state Department of Health and Hospitals to lease a luxury vehicle for herself, and purchase air travel and cruise tickets for personal travel with herself and family members.

During its years in operation, Distinctive billed the state’s Medicaid program more than $2 million, Caldwell said.

The case has been assigned to state District Judge Bonnie Jackson.