Two Minneapolis women have been convicted of operating fraudulent personal care attendant agencies as part of the largest Medicaid fraud case in Minnesota history.
Hennepin County District Judge Jay Quam found that Lillian Richardson, 54, and Bridgett Burrell, 56, defrauded the state's Medicaid program of $7.7 million meant for disabled people who need help with daily living tasks, state Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a news release Friday night.
"It's shameful that these defendants illegally set up home care companies that were supposed to help people solely for the purpose of lining their own pockets," Ellison said. "They took advantage of vulnerable people, sullied the honest work that hardworking personal care attendants do every day, and defrauded the people of Minnesota."
Richardson and Burrell were found guilty of one count each of racketeering and eight counts each of aiding and abetting theft by swindle of a value greater than $35,000.
In July 2017, former Attorney General Lori Swanson announced that charges had been filed against seven people, including Richardson and Burrell, in relation to the complex Medicaid fraud scheme. Since then, all five of Richardson and Burrell's co-defendants have pleaded guilty, and six others have been charged. The case against Richardson and Burrell has been the only one to go to trial.
Despite telling a court when she was first convicted of Medicaid fraud in 2012 that she had learned a lesson, Richardson then worked as an agent for five home care agencies enrolled in the Medicaid program, disguising her identify by using names of family members, Ellison said. The agencies received more than $7.7 million from the state, often billing for services that were not provided and in some instances, using the identities of people who did not even live in Minnesota.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars of claims were the result of illegal kickback or check-splitting agreements between clients and employees, many of whom were friends and family members of Richardson and Burrell, he said.
Staff writers Pamela Miller and Brandon Stahl contributed to this report.