A US-based Kenyan couple was on Thursday arrested over allegations of engaging in a Medicaid fraud scheme that involved exploiting homeless people.
John Wachira, 52, and 60-year-old Joanne Wachira of Chelmsford, Massachusetts were arraigned before Middlesex Superior Court where they were charged with Medicaid false claims, larceny over $1,200 and Medicaid kickbacks, Attorney-General Maura Healey’s office said in a statement. The two pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against them.
The Wachiras, who operate Petra Health Care, a home healthcare company that provides in-home services to patients, are said to have recruited at least 10 people to live in their house for free but required them to be MassHealth members. The recruitment happened in the period between July 2015 and December 2017, according to the statement from AG’s office.
The people in the house were allegedly required to sign up to receive Petra’s home health care services as well as false timesheets showing they were receiving certain services such as bathing and medication reminders, the AG office added.
The couple and Petra went ahead to bill MassHealth for those services even though they were not provided. As a result of the fraudulent scheme, John and Joanne obtained $543,542.19 from MassHealth.
This is not the first time the Wachiras are being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office. Last year, the couple was ordered to pay over $200,000 in restitution and penalties to resolve allegations that they neglected to pay their staff for overtime and travel.