Leaders of “Helping Hands” Agency Sentenced to Prison for Medicaid Fraud
On Wednesday, March 19th, the leaders of “Helping Hands” young mentoring agency, which had officers in Conway and Georgetown, were sentenced to several years in federal prison after being found guilty of Medicaid fraud.
The founders of “Helping Hands,” brothers Truman and Norman Lewis, were each found guilty for conspiracy to defraud the federal Medicaid program, and of stealing money from Medicaid. Truman Lewis received a 10-year federal prison sentence, while Norman will spend 7 ½ years in prison. The brothers will also pay $3.3 million in restitution, and will be on 3 years’ supervised release after their prison sentences are completed.
“Medicaid serves those in our community most in need,” U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said in a statement. “When individuals like the Lewis brothers rob this program of millions of dollars, they deprive our most vulnerable citizens of resources that can help them.”
“There is no doubt that Truman and Norman where the two main forces behind the conspiracy and, although they coaxed others to participate in the conspiracy, Norman and Truman reaped all the moneys from the scheme,” said Christopher Murphy, defense attorney for Melanie Lewis, Norman Lewis’s wife. Murphy said Melanie Lewis “only got involved in this mess due to fear of her husband.”
The brothers were found guilty of Medicaid fraud in August. Testimony during the trial alleged that employees at Helping Hands, who were mostly Lewis family members, falsified records submitted to Medicaid, claiming that patients who were not eligible for the federal program should actually be covered. They also submitted claims for non-existent patients, then transferred the funds to personal bank accounts for personal purchases, including a Bentley and a Mercedes.
When members of the Lewis family, including Truman and Norman, were indicted on Medicaid fraud charges in June 2012, the family had $1 million in certificates of deposit, and their bank accounts.
Helping Hands allegedly provided mentoring services for low-income families and children with behavioral problems, primarily in Horry and Georgetown Counties. The Department of Social Services, as well as schools in the area, referred children and families to the agency, although Helping Hands had no licensed counselors.
The agency was shut down in 2011 after federal investigators raided the agency’s offices on claims of Medicaid fraud.
The Strom Law Firm Protects Medicaid Fraud Whistleblowers in South Carolina
Common whistle blower actions include:
- Health care fraud, including Medicare and Medicaid fraud,
- defense contractor fraud, and
- other kinds of fraud
Qui tam lawsuits have been, and continue to be, a very effective and successful tool in combating government procurement and program fraud.
Bolstered by amendments passed by Congress in 1986, the law has armed private citizens who have independent and direct knowledge of fraud, with a weapon to prosecute government contractors and others who are defrauding the Government.
If you have first-hand knowledge of government fraud occurring at your place of employment or your doctor’s office, including Medicaid fraud, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help protect your rights. In order to help the government provide the best possible services, Medicare and Medicaid fraud must be reported as soon as possible. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm understand the complexity of qui tam and whistleblower suits, and we offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today.803.252.4800