The principal of an Oklahoma City elementary school and her husband are accused of bilking thousands of dollars from Medicaid by filing fake claims that they counseled at-risk children.
Cynthia Barchue, 52, is principal of Greystone Upper Elementary School, a third- through fifth-grade school at 2401 NW 115 Terrace. She has been charged in Oklahoma County District Court with three counts of Medicaid fraud. She's accused of fraudulently billing more than $16,000 to Medicaid.
She has worked at Capitol Hill, Oakridge and Heronville elementary schools.
Joseph Barchue, 56, is charged with one felony count and one misdemeanor count of Medicaid fraud. He's accused of filing more than $5,000 in false claims.
The Barchues are alcohol and drug counselors through YouthCare of Oklahoma, 222 E Sheridan. Both the Barchues and YouthCare are licensed to bill Medicaid for counseling services they provide to children.
Investigators question children
The investigation into the Barchues began two years ago, when Oklahoma City Public Schools administrators received an anonymous letter from an employee at Heronville Elementary, where Barchue was principal at the time.
The Barchues were recruiting current and former Heronville students to receive counseling services from them, according to court documents.
District officials turned their investigation over to the attorney general, Oklahoma City Superintendent Karl Springer said in a statement.
“All documents conducted in the internal investigation were turned over to the attorney general and are being used as evidence in the case against Mrs. Barchue,” Springer said. “OKCPS could not previously take disciplinary action against Mrs. Barchue because it would have jeopardized the federal prosecutor's case.”
So Cynthia Barchue kept her job as investigators built their case against her and her husband.
The school secretary told investigators that Joseph Barchue came to the school often “so that he could build his client base.” She said that she saw Joseph Barchue give a business card to a child and then take it back after his wife said the child wasn't eligible for Medicaid.
Joseph Barchue told investigators he did have clients who were Heronville students, but that they were referrals.
Three siblings interviewed by investigators said they were given cash when they had counseling sessions with the Barchues, according to the affidavit.
The children and their parents also told investigators that they were counseled fewer than five times; the Barchues billed Medicaid for more than 90 sessions.
Investigators found claims for nearly 40 sessions where Cynthia Barchue was either supposed to be at work or out on sick leave, according to an affidavit filed Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court.
She told investigators the billing errors, which totaled more than $3,700, were because of an eye condition.
Investigators interviewed another family about services the Barchues claimed to have provided. Joseph Barchue said he counseled one child 22 times, but the mother said he only saw her child two or three times.
Attempts to reach the Barchues for comment were not successful.
Springer, the district superintendent, said he's grateful for the work done by district and attorney general investigators.
“It is my commitment to the parents, students and constituents of Oklahoma City Public Schools that I have and will continue to report and cooperate with all necessary agencies on wrongdoings uncovered in the district,” he said.