ABINGDON, Va. – Two twin sisters pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to conspiring to commit healthcare fraud and making a false statement in relation to the Social Security Act.
According to a release from the Western District of Virginia Department of Justice, Michele Honaker and Marilyn Blankenship, both 45 and from Richlands, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit healthcare fraud.
Chandler Blankenship, son of Marilyn Blankenship, 26, also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of making a false statement in relation to the Social Security Act.
“Medicaid fraud, including billing for home healthcare services that were not actually provided, is a serious federal crime and one that can result in a prison sentence,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said. “We will continue to work closely with our partners at the Virginia Attorney General’s Office to investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations who illegally put profit over patient care and, in so doing, undermine these vital government programs.”
Court documents say at multiple different times between April 1, 2008 and Sept. 28, 2018, Honaker and Blankenship worked as service facilitators under the Virginia Medicaid program.
Their duties as service facilitators included conducting home visits and re-assessments, as well as training those receiving the benefits of Medicaid.
Chandler Blankenship worked under his mother and aunt during this time and eventually became a services facilitator himself.
The release says Honaker and Blankenship billed Virginia Medicaid multiple times for visits on the same day for the same recipients when only one or the other twin would visit.
All three defendants also billed Virginia Medicaid multiple times for visits with recipients who had died or moved.
“Rooting out provider fraud helps keep the Medicaid program strong for those Virginians who truly need assistance,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. “Our strong partnerships with state agencies, like the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, and federal partners, like U.S. Attorney Cullen and his team, ensure that our Medicaid dollars are used effectively.”
This investigation was conducted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office with the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services aiding.