A Medfield resident and his adult foster care business were indicted on Friday, March 30 for alleged kickbacks totaling more than $1.2 million, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley's office.
Dennis Etzkorn, 52, of 10 Trailside Rd., his Fall River based adult foster care business, Gabriel Care, LLC and the company's program director, Jennifer Nunes-Reid, 34, were indicted for allegedly paying, and offering to pay, illegal kickbacks in exchange for the referral of new clients enrolled in the Medicaid-funded program, Coakley announced in an April 3 press release.
A Bristol County Grand Jury returned indictments against Etzkorn, Nunes-Reid and Gabriel Care, LLC on charges of Medicaid kickback (three counts), Medicaid false claims (three counts), and larceny over $250 (one count), according to the Attorney General Office's press release.
“This case is an example of the importance of public participation when it comes to bringing attention to the wasteful spending of hard earned tax dollars during a tough economy when residents are struggling to make ends meet,” Coakley said in a statement. “Only with the help of Massachusetts citizens can Medicaid fraud be aggressively combated and we thank the citizen complainant in this case and ask others to report such egregious behavior to our office.”
According to authorities, Gabriel Care, LLC is an adult foster care provider that oversees caregivers, typically a friend or family member, rendering at-home personal care services to MassHealth recipients. Nunes-Reid is the company's program director and oversees the day-to-day responsibilities of the company.
The indictments allege that Etzkorn, Nunes-Reid and Etzkorn's business paid and offered to pay individuals, including those participating as clients or caregivers in the adult foster care program, a predetermined amount of money for each eligible MassHealth member they referred to his company.
Gabriel Care then allegedly billed MassHealth for adult foster care services rendered to those clients for which a kickback was supposedly paid. Authorities allege that for at least 44 clients who were illegally procured by kickbacks between March 2009 and September 2011, Gabriel Care billed for and received over $1.2 million from MassHealth, according to the Attorney General Office's press release.
An investigation into Gabriel Care began after Coakley’s Medicaid Fraud Division received a citizen complaint on its Medicaid Fraud hotline at (617) 963-2360, according to the press release. The extensive investigation ultimately focused on the activities alleged in Friday's indictments.
Etzkorn, Nunes-Reid and Gabriel Care are scheduled to be arraigned in Bristol Superior Court at a later date, according to the press release. These charges are allegations and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Assistant Attorney General Steven Sharobem is prosecuting this case. The case is being investigated by Investigators Christopher Cecchini and Ronald Velez with Coakley's Medicaid Fraud Division. Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office and Special Agents from the Boston Office of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General also assisted in this case, according to the Attorney General Office's press release.
NOTE: To see Gabriel Care's statement following the indictment, click here.