Anyone accused of a crime has the constitutional right to a vigorous offense, and a strong defense is particularly critical when person is accused of federal crimes. Michigan residents will be interested to note that a licensed counselor is facing charges of healthcare fraud conspiracy and obstruction of official proceedings after being accused of Medicaid fraud.

The 37-year-old woman was arrested on Aug. 22 and is accused defrauding Medicaid of at least $650,000. Specifically, authorities allege that she allowed other people to use her Medicaid reimbursement number for a variety of health services that in actuality were never provided from March 2009 to April 2011.

The alleged fraud took place in Charlotte, North Carolina. If convicted of the charges, the counselor could be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, along with a fine that could reach $500,000. U.S. attorneys claim that the counselor engaged in a conspiracy with two other women.

The other women were accused of submitting fraudulent claims through a company the counselor ran. Prosecutors claim the counselor hung onto a percentage of the reimbursements for the false mental and behavioral health claims.

A federal indictment says that at one point she claimed she provided 69 hours of services in a single day. Other reimbursement claims were allegedly made for a variety of times when the counselor was overseas.

The two women who were accused of conspiring with the counselor have already been convicted on federal charges. One woman was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of more than $1.1 million. The other was sentenced to 15 months and ordered to pay restitution of just less than $300,000. Those sentences were handed down during the summer.

The consequences of being convicted of federal crimes obviously can be quite severe, which is why anyone facing such allegations needs legal counsel throughout the process. A rigorous defense can lead to charges being dropped or reduced, along with the possibility of a more lenient sentence if a conviction occurs.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "Charlotte counselor accused of $650,000 Medicaid fraud," Meghan Cooke, Aug. 26, 2012