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Home health aide sentenced to prison for Medicaid fraud involving time at casinos, resorts

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Jul 22, 2013 at 11:05 AM

A former Cleveland-area home health aide will be going to prison for improperly billing the Ohio Department of Medicaid for more than $234,000.

Franklin County Common Pleas Court  Judge Kim Brown sentenced Ellanora Whiting, 39, to two years in prison. She must also pay $234,663.61 in restitution of taxpayer dollars.

Whiting pleaded guilty in June to a felony charge of theft after an investigation by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MCFU) revealed that she billed Medicaid for time spent gambling.

"This home health care aide claimed she was visiting patients' homes at the same time that she was actually visiting places including casinos and resorts," DeWine said. "We hope today's prison sentence and restitution order sends a strong message to others who try to take advantage of the system."

The MCFU investigation further revealed that Whiting billed Medicaid as if she was working at several places at once, and she was also found on multiple occasions to have billed for working more than 24-hours in a day.

Two Medicaid recipients, Michael Hunter and Roxie Hodges of Cleveland, were also charged for taking kickbacks in connection with Whiting's practice of illegal billing. Hunter and Hodges each pleaded guilty to charges of complicity to commit theft and were sentenced in March to pay restitution jointly and severally with Whiting on portions of the total amount of restitution. Hunter must pay nearly $123,000 and Hodges must pay approximately $56,000 of the restitution.

Prosecutors with the attorney general's health care fraud section prosecuted the case.

Ohioans can report suspected Medicaid fraud to DeWine's office by calling (800) 282-0515 or visiting www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.

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