HELENA, Mont. — A Montana woman has been sentenced to five years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $460,000 in restitution and back taxes for lying about her family income to obtain Medicaid benefits, creating false claims for treatment at her father’s physical therapy practice and pocketing the payments, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon sentenced Elizabeth Jones Powell of East Helena on Tuesday. She pleaded guilty to health care fraud and tax evasion. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss 17 other felony counts, including money laundering.
Powell, 52, performed office duties and insurance billing for her father’s physical therapy practice in Helena. Prosecutors say from 2009 to 2013 Powell made $584,000 in false insurance claims resulting in actual losses of nearly $421,000 to Medicaid and other insurers.
Investigators have said Powell, her husband and three children were the only Medicaid patients billed by her father’s practice. Powell submitted bills for 327 treatments for one of the children who told investigators he recalled only seven treatments. Powell billed for 102 of those treatments in 2012 that supposedly took place while that child was in college.
Two other children reported Powell tried to get them to lie about receiving treatments or the length of time they received treatments, court records said.
Powell and her family also received other treatment and medications for which they were not eligible that caused another $44,000 in losses to Medicaid, court records said.
She under-reported her income and owes more than $43,000 in unpaid taxes, prosecutors said.
The fraud and other theft from the physical therapy practice forced Powell’s father, who was in his 80s, to sell his house, prosecutors said in arguing for the five-year sentence.
Investigators found that Powell spent at least $32,000 on gambling, court records said.