Two Sumter County South Carolina women were sentenced to federal prison this week for “making false statements to defraud Medicaid,” according to a news release from the office of U.S. attorney Sherri Lydon.
Angela Breitweiser Keith, 53, received a twelve month sentence. Meanwhile Ann Davis Eldridge, 58, received six months. There is no parole in the federal system.
The sentences were handed down by federal magistrate Paige J. Gossett.
“The U.S. attorney’s office will aggressively protect the integrity of our health care system,” Lydon said. “Those found cheating the system face the prospect of both civil fines and federal prison time.”
Keith and Eldridge were executives of the South Carolina Early Autism Project (SCEAP), which provided behavioral health and education solutions for children and young adults, particularly those diagnosed with autism.
Eldridge was a co-founder of the group, while Keith worked there from its inception.
From the U.S. attorney’s office release …
SCEAP overcharged Medicaid and Tricare (military-affiliated insurance) millions of dollars by inflating billing records and charging the government for services it did not provide to clients. SCEAP employees reported to the government that they were pressured to exaggerate the amount of time they spent delivering services to the clients. Company emails indicated that SCEAP encouraged employees to unlawfully bill for time while waiting in driveways, traveling to and from servicing the clients, and even while sitting in restaurants. The employees also indicated that they had required billing goals they had to meet to qualify for job benefits and/or bonuses. These bonuses included gift cards and company-expensed vacations.
In December 2012, Eldridge and her business partner sold SCEAP to a company called Chancelight for more than $18 million. In 2018, SCEAP/ Chancelight repaid the federal government nearly $9 million for overbilling related to a civil case.
The investigation into Keith and Eldridge was conducted by members of multiple federal agencies and the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson. The case was prosecuted by assistant United States attorney T. DeWayne Pearson.
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