A Baton Rouge woman was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison Thursday after admitting she led a fraudulent scheme that cost Medicare more than $1.2 million.
In addition to the 37-month prison term for health care fraud and money laundering, Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson ordered Sonya Lewis Williams, 47, to repay the losses suffered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Those losses were inflicted through two companies in Baton Rouge and two in Alexandria.
Investigators with the Baton Rouge Medicare Fraud Strike Force discovered that Williams established two companies — Fusion Services LLC and Grace Social Services LLC — in Alexandria and used the firms to swindle $349,715 from Medicare. Both companies were controlled from offices Williams had in Baton Rouge in the 8400 block of Bluebonnet Boulevard and 1600 block of Broadmoor Court.
Williams, represented by attorney Thomas C. Damico, signed a plea agreement with Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine M. Maraist. Williams promised to cooperate with law enforcement officials in return for a pledge that she would not face any additional charges.
Williams admitted she falsified bills to Medicare for face-to-face psychotherapy services that were never delivered to Baton Rouge and Alexandria-area patients by licensed clinical social workers.
Williams also admitted she “submitted claims to Medicare for services purportedly rendered to beneficiaries who had died, for beneficiaries who had been discharged as clients, and for beneficiaries who were in the hospital and not entitled” to home or office therapy.
Acting U.S. Attorney Walt Green noted Thursday that Williams admitted she cost Medicare another $873,756 by submitting fraudulent bills from two companies she operated in Baton Rouge — Alpha Social Services LLC and Breitling Investment Co. LLC. Both firms were managed from the 8400 block of Bluebonnet Boulevard.
The Strike Force used investigators from the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FBI, IRS and Medicare contractor AdvanceMed to build the case against Williams.
Earlier this year, Pineville resident Lillie Lavan, 58, was sentenced by Jackson to 27 months in prison for her guilty plea to one count of health care fraud. The judge also ordered Lavan to pay restitution of $115,010 to Medicare.
Another Pineville resident, 49-year-old Carla Clark, pleaded guilty to two counts of health care fraud. But Clark has undergone treatments for brain aneurysms this year and is not yet scheduled for sentencing.