Health care agency staff members face charges

Three Twin Cities area home health care agencies’ staffs faced various criminal charges in January. It is an alarming trend. […]

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Three Twin Cities area home health care agencies’ staffs faced various criminal charges in January. It is an alarming trend.

Advantage Home Care Services of St. Paul owner-operators Blessing Anyanwu and Ernest Anyanwu of Plymouth were charged Jan. 23 in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of medical assistance fraud and one count of theft by false representation. Court documents indicate the couple didn’t provide services they billed the state for.

Blessing Anyanwu received $1.2 million from Advantage from 2006 through July 2010. While they claimed Ernest Anyanwu didn’t get paid as administrator and manager, financial records show he received more than $70,000.

The Anyanwus were involved in different home health care service businesses since 1994. In 2008, when the alleged fraud came to light, the company received more than $1.7 million in paid claims for 213 recipients. A Minnesota Department of Human Services probe took place from September 2008 through March 2009. During that time the state reimbursed Advantage for almost $5 million.

An executive with Osseo-based Edelweiss Home Health Care was charged with cheating her employer and an insurance company out of nearly $1.5 million over six years. Lori Jo Mueller of Apple Valley was charged in federal court in Minneapolis with wire fraud and health care fraud.

According to the criminal charges, Mueller stole about $840,000 from Edelweiss. The theft occurred between June 2006 and June 2012. Also, from March 2010 until June 2012, she allegedly defrauded Medica by submitting false claims to various insurers seeking reimbursement for services provided by Edelweiss nursing staff.

While known as Lori Jo Peterson, she was convicted in 1997 of stealing more than $60,000 from a company in Burnsville. She also was convicted in 1992 in a swindling case in Hennepin County The operator of a home health care agency in northeast Minneapolis stands accused of filing bogus Medicaid billings totaling more than $400,000.

Abshir M. Ahmed of Minneapolis was charged Jan. 15 in federal court in Minneapolis with health care fraud. According to prosecutors, from January 2008 through June 2011, Ahmed submitted false claims through Lucky Home Health Care Inc. for services by personal care assistants that were not carried out. (Sources: Star Tribune, Pioneer Press)

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