The Minnesota attorney general’s office charged three more people in connection with operating fraudulent personal care attendant agencies that stole more than $900,000 in tax funds meant to benefit people who need help with their daily living.
Since 2006, Juanita Swain, 54, and her daughter, Aretina Williams, 33, both of Brooklyn Park, have run the agency called Your Way Home Care. State Attorney General Lori Swanson says in the lawsuit that since at least 2011, the two billed for care they never provided, stole the identities of personal care attendants (PCAs) to submit fake claims, and gave kickbacks to their friends and family members to become clients and stay with the agency. Each faces at least 10 felony theft charges.
The attorney general also charged Williams’ father, Michael Carson, 57, of Park Forest, Ill. The state accuses him of acting as a “front” to enable his daughter to open Your Way, after she was suspended by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Swain and Williams are related to Lillian Richardson, whom Swanson’s office charged Monday with racketeering for being the accused ringleader of several fraudulent PCA agencies run out of Hennepin County. Swanson’s office alleges that Richardson, along with six other women who were charged, all of whom were her friends or family, stole nearly $8 million in Medicaid dollars through the PCA agencies.
“It’s an affront to the taxpayers, whose generosity pays for this system, when bad actors bilk the system for undelivered services,” Swanson said.
The crackdown is part of a national effort, with the federal Department of Justice on Thursday announcing that 412 people have been charged with $1.3 billion in fraud.
Swanson said so far her office has not been able to determine if any Minnesota patients have been harmed by the PCA agencies and the 10 women her office has charged. She said the state’s investigation is continuing.
Swanson said it appears that many involved in the PCA agencies, as well as their clients, were friends and family and were in on the scheme.
In one instance, a mother of three children who were supposed to be getting PCA care from Your Way instead got kickbacks from the agency, which billed for $260,000 in services that were not provided, according to the criminal charges.
Both Swain and Williams also worked with PCA providers to divert painkillers, according to the attorney general’s complaint, though neither was charged with any drug crimes.
Swanson said more charges against PCA providers and others are forthcoming.