SHREVEPORT, La. – Two Northwest Louisiana residents who owned and ran the Positive Change Counseling Agency LLC will be arraigned at 4 p.m. Tuesday following their indictments late last month for improperly billing Medicaid for almost $8 million, in addition to paying kickbacks in violation of the law, U.S. Attorney David Joseph said in a news release.
Marty Johnson, 57, of Shreveport, owner and operator of Positive Change, and Keesha Dinkins, 42, of Bossier City, the company’s supervisor and business manager, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, 47 counts of health care fraud and four counts of wire fraud. Johnson also faces one count of paying a kickback.
The indictments were returned on Aug. 28; however, they remained sealed until Friday, which is when Johnson and Dinkins first appeared in court. Both are free on bonds of $25,000 each.
The indictments come three months after a KTBS In-depth report where reporter Jeff Beimfohr disclosed that active investigations into Medicaid fraud were ongoing in Northwest Louisiana. Bloated billing and questionable healthcare practices here and across the state were under scrutiny.
According to Johnson's and Dinkins' indictment, Positive Change billed Medicaid $7,992,347 for psychiatric therapy, transportation, and other related mental health services from January 2014 to December 2018 that were never provided. In order to execute the scheme, Johnson and his employees recruited clients to receive mental health and related services.
Johnson then paid some of these clients kickbacks in exchange for enrolling in certain programs. Johnson also obtained Medicaid identification numbers from potential clients and their family members and, without the potential clients’ authorization, billed Medicaid for services that were not rendered, Joseph said.
The indictments further allege in billing Medicaid, Johnson and Dinkins:
- Created false documents showing that Positive Change provided services that were not rendered;
- Falsely listed employees with graduate and advanced educational degrees as service providers in order to trigger a higher rate of payment from Medicaid; and
- Used false, fabricated and exaggerated mental health diagnoses in order to obtain additional payments from Medicaid.
If convicted, Johnson and Dinkins face up to 20 years in prison for each count of conspiracy, health care fraud and wire fraud. Johnson also faces 10 years in prison for illegal kickbacks. Both defendants also faces up to five years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl M. Campbell and Cadesby Cooper are prosecuting the case.