Columbus woman to pay $86,000 restitution for defrauding government
Ga. -- A 41-year-old Columbus, Georgia woman was sentenced Wednesday to pay restitution of $86,000 and serve three years on probation for defrauding the United States government in a medical equipment billing scheme.
The woman is Christie Morgan -- a.k.a Christie Hutto.
Morgan and her former husband operated a durable medical equipment company for several years in LaGrange known as Hutto Limb and Brace, LLC. HLB specialized in fabricating custom orthotic and prosthetic limbs and joints, as well as custom fitted shoes and inserts.
Many of the patients of HLB were recipients of Medicare and Georgia Medicaid and the services of HLB were billed to those entities. In order to qualify for Medicare and Georgia Medicaid payments, the services must have been performed by or under the direct supervision of a licensed orthotist/prosthetist. Morgan’s husband was the only licensed orthotist/prosthetist at HLB.
On April 6, 2012, Morgan’s husband left the business. However, Morgan continued operating HLB into November 2012, without a licensed orthotist/prosthetist on board -- all the while submitting bills from her home in Columbus to Medicare and Georgia Medicaid claiming otherwise.
Through this scheme, she wrongfully claimed approximately $172,000 from these benefit programs, but only actually received half that amount.
“One of the two top priorities of this United States Attorney’s Office is the reduction of waste and fraud against the government. It doesn’t matter whether the defendant is a multi-national corporation embezzling millions or a one person shop falsely billing for much smaller sums, such as in this case, all will be prosecuted fully in the Middle District of Georgia,” said United States Attorney Peeler.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr stated that “Our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is committed to protecting the integrity of the Georgia Medicaid program, its members and the taxpayer dollars used to provide this service. We will remain vigilant in our efforts to identify and detect fraud, abuse or waste and aggressively recover all funds spent inappropriately, and we are grateful to work with our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and law enforcement to protect Georgians.”