An Oklahoma City mental health counselor is accused of cheating taxpayers out of $34,000 while already on probation for Medicaid fraud.
The therapist, Vickie Rhea Yearwood, 53, is accused in her newest Medicaid fraud case of submitting false claims to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority in October, November and December.
The state's multicounty grand jury indicted Yearwood last week. She is charged in the indictment with one felony Medicaid fraud count and one misdemeanor Medicaid fraud count.
She pleaded not guilty Thursday when the indictment was made public. She could be sentenced to prison if convicted.
“One of our top priorities is to investigate and prosecute criminals who try to take advantage of the system and commit fraud at taxpayer expense,” said Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose assistants advise the grand jury.
“We hope this sends a message that fraud will not be tolerated,” Pruitt said.
Grand jurors alleged in the felony count that Yearwood sent in claims for payments for counseling sessions with 11 children that she had not performed. Grand jurors alleged she faked progress notes.
Grand jurors alleged in the misdemeanor count that she sent in claims for payments for sessions with four children, also that did not take place.
She was a licensed professional counselor at the time for Beacon Pointe LLC and Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth, according to the
Prosecutors said she no longer works for Beacon Pointe.
She already has promised to make $34,000 in restitution, Assistant Attorney General Mykel Fry said.
Yearwood pleaded guilty a year ago to a felony Medicaid fraud charge. An Oklahoma County judge put her on probation for five years. She paid almost $8,000 in restitution and other costs on the 2010 case.
Prosecutors reported her excuse for committing fraud in the first case was her own mounting health costs. An investigator for the attorney general reported she claimed to have more than $20,000 in medical expenses from an illness and that treatments cost $3,000 each.
Prosecutors said they discovered more wrongdoing last November when Yearwood asked the judge to end her probation early and dismiss the case so she could continue being a therapist.
“So rather than just agree to that, we did some checking and found that she was still doing Medicaid fraud so we asked the grand jury to take a look at it,” Fry said.
Yearwood in December withdrew her request to end probation.