Mass. Couple Plead Not Guilty for Allegedly Running Medicaid Fraud Scheme

John Wachira and Joanne Wachira, both of Chelmsford, fraudulently obtained $543,000 as a result of the scheme, according to the attorney general's office

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A Massachusetts couple faced a judge Thursday in connection with a Medicaid fraud scheme that involved exploiting homeless people, officials said.

John Wachira, 52, and Joanne Wachira, 60, both of Chelmsford, were arrested earlier in the day and charged with Medicaid false claims, larceny over $1,200 and Medicaid kickbacks, according to a statement from Attorney General Maura Healey's office.

The couple pleaded not guilty to the charges in Middlesex Superior Court. John Wachira was held on $15,000 bail while his wife Joanne Wachira was ordered held on $5,000 bail.

The Wachira's operate Petra Health Care, a home health care company that provides in-home services to patients. From July 2015 to December 2017, the Wachiras recruited at least 10 homeless people to live in their house for free, but required them to be MassHealth members, the statement said.

The people in the house were allegedly required to sign up to receive Petra's home health care services. The couple also required them to sign false timesheets indicating the group was receiving certain services including bathing and medication reminders, according to the statement.

"We allege that these defendants took advantage of homeless individuals in order to steal from the state’s healthcare system," Healey said in a statement. "Fighting home health care fraud is a priority for our Medicaid Fraud Division."

The Wachiras and their company allegedly billed MassHealth for those services even though they were not provided.

The couple fraudulently obtained $543,542.19 from MassHealth as a result of the scheme, the statement said.

Upon the couple's release, they will be under house arrest and cannot be involved in any state or federal healthcare programs. They are due back in court in January.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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