Man hired to care for 15 year old goes to prison for stealing Medicaid money

November 09, 2017 06:13 PM

New York State spend millions of taxpayer dollars on people who need help. Thursday, we saw one man who was willing to steal thousands of it. 

This was the plan for Nicholas Rice. He falsified his time sheet, didn't show up for work to help a teenager and collected the money. He forgot about the little New York State monitoring device strapped to his ankle.

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Now, Rice is going to prison for up to three years. Thursday, inside this courtroom of Judge Sam Valleriani, he was sentenced for stealing more than $6,000 taxpayer dollars.

Last year, Rice was hired to take care of a 15-year-old boy with disabilities. But for days over three months, he never showed up.

Margaret Jones, NYS Attorney General's office: "These cases involve some of the most vulnerable people in our community. These are people that need protection."

Here's what the New York State Attorney General's Office says happened.

Rice filled out his time sheets saying he was helping the teenager at his home in Geneva. In fact, Rice was in Rochester. How did investigators know? Rice was wearing an ankle bracelet because he was on parole for drug possession. 

Rice was hired by the teenager's mother, Julie Johnson. Johnson pled guilty to signing off on the bad time sheets last month.

The program is called consumer-directed. It allows the people who qualify for Medicaid in-home care, to hire people they know and trust to help them.

In a 2006 report, the New York State Comptroller's Office says it found, "$5.7 million in inappropriate Medicaid payments made to home care providers" over five years. 

The NYS Attorney General's Office gets hundreds of complaints every year.

Jones: "We need to make sure that the people that are involved in this program and implementing this program are not committing fraud."

Questions Remain

Here's what we asked the New York State Department of Health: how does someone on parole get hired and paid by Medicaid? If that doesn't disqualify someone from earning taxpayer money, what does? 

Here is the statement from the New York State Department of Health:

"The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) was created to provide people in need of home health care with the flexibility they need in order to be cared for by their family members or friends. To the extent that a consumer wants to do a background check on a family member or friend, it is their right to do so."
The NYS DOH also says, under New York State law, "CDPAP workers are exempt from mandatory criminal background checks."

In this case, as it is in most of them, the patient knows the worker personally. 

Nicholas Rice pled to one count of the indictment. In court, he was apologetic. He told Judge Valleriani, "Thank you your honor for being more than fair."


Berkeley Brean

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