Thursday, July 25, 2024

New Hanover County social worker sentenced to prison for Medicaid fraud

Felicia Moore Jones was sentenced to prison time for conspiring to defraud NC Medicaid through her position as a New Hanover County social worker. (Port City Daily/File)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY—A New Hanover County social worker has been sentenced to time in a federal prison and fined following charges of conspiracy to commit fraud by the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Monday, June 17, Felicia Moore Jones, 52, was sentenced to 14 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution for conspiring to defraud North Carolina Medicaid of over $400,000.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Jones exploited her position as a state government employee to obtain personal information, such as Medicaid ID numbers, of New Hanover County residents. She collaborated with Lakia Washington, a licensed mental health counselor and owner of L.W. Therapeutics & Consulting, LLC.

The operation involved Jones stealing patients’ information obtained through her job and passing it on to Washington. Washington then used the information to bill for services totaling over $400,000 for nonexistent patients.

“This defendant used her government position to steal from a government program intended to help the needy,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley in a press release. “Now, she will be forced to repay what she took and spend the next 14 months behind bars.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the duo began fraudulently billing Medicaid as early as January 2018. By 2020, this scheme had resulted in Medicaid disbursing up to $800,000.

Washington pleaded guilty last year and is awaiting sentencing. 

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