Friday, November 16, 2007

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Houston-area Man Sentenced to Five Years for Orchestrating $600,000 Medicaid Fraud Scheme

HOUSTON – A Fresno man was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree felony theft, admitting to a scheme that defrauded the Medicaid program of approximately $600,000 in taxpayer funds.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit arrested Aaron R. Binder, 37, in July 2006. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted Binder for masterminding a scheme to defraud the government. He received reimbursements for mental health “counseling” sessions that were either never performed or were falsely reported through his Houston businesses, Solutions To Changing Lives and Solutions 2 Changing Lives.

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Aaron Binder
Aaron Binder

Harris County Assistant District Attorney Mike Trent prosecuted this case with the assistance of Assistant Attorney General Rod Boyles.

“With this guilty plea and sentence, the defendant admits to illegally billing the taxpayers for counseling services that were never rendered,” said Attorney General Abbott. “We are grateful to Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal Jr. for his assistance in this case and his commitment to Medicaid fraud prosecutions.”

Attorney General Abbott added: “State, local and federal officials will continue investigating and prosecuting criminals who steal from a program that provides health care to needy Texans.”

From March 2002 to February 2004 Binder collected fraudulent reimbursements from Medicaid totaling almost $500,000. During another period, from February 2004 to May 2004, Binder’s businesses received over $99,000 in reimbursements that were tied to fraudulent billings.

Binder hired licensed professional counselors to work at the businesses, which offered behavioral and mental health counseling services that were eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. He and his associates advertised these services at Houston public schools and apartment complexes.

Potential clients who responded to the advertisements were asked for their Medicaid account numbers. Then, their numbers were billed for counseling services that never occurred. In other instances, the counselors submitted claims that illegally inflated the amount of time spent with clients.

In 2006 alone, Texas spent more than $17 billion to fund its portion of the Medicaid program. To save taxpayer dollars and protect Texas seniors, Attorney General Abbott has dramatically expanded the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

The unit has established field offices in Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Antonio and Tyler through authorization and funding from the 78th Legislature. It works with federal, state and local agencies across the state to identify and prosecute those who defraud the Medicaid program.

To obtain more information about the Attorney General’s efforts to fight Medicaid fraud, access the agency’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.