The Minnesota Attorney General's Office has charged eight people with perpetrating a long-running fraud scheme that cost the state's Medicaid program more than $860,000.

Investigators allege in charges filed this week that the ringleader of the five-year swindling operation was Trenea D. Davis of Brooklyn Center.

Davis, 46, admitted to authorities that she recruited friends and relatives to feign or exaggerate medical conditions to qualify them for personal care assistant (PCA) services, according to the 11 felony counts filed against her in Hennepin County District Court, which span from January 2015 to March 2020.

She then enlisted others to report providing services that never occurred and coordinated check-splitting arrangements among PCAs, recipients and herself, according to the charges of aiding and abetting theft by swindle.

Davis was charged by summons and is scheduled to make her first court appearance on March 11. Reached by phone Thursday, Davis declined to comment.

"Minnesotans who receive Medical Assistance have a right to expect that they'll receive all the care, dignity, and respect they're entitled to. Minnesotans trying to afford their lives have a right to expect that every one of their tax dollars will be put to use properly," Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement. "People who commit Medicaid fraud violate both of those rights."

Davis reported that she worked as a PCA for more than 7,000 hours from December 2014 to May 2018, then switched to the role of patient, reporting to need up to 12 hours of care a day, according to the charges.

Separate felony charges against the others allege:

• Davis' husband, Cedric Zeno, 53, of Brooklyn Center, was billed as receiving more than 10,000 hours of care and allegedly needed daily assistance with dressing, grooming, transferring and mobility. PCAs listed on Zeno's timesheets denied ever caring for Zeno and described him as driving Davis and PCAs to the bank to cash and split their paychecks. The Medicaid program paid more than $177,000 for Zeno's claims.

• Davis' niece Virleka D. Parker, 30, of Brooklyn Center, falsely reported providing more than 12,000 hours of PCA services to 10 recipients, including Davis' nephew, because he supposedly could not otherwise dress, groom, bathe, eat or use the bathroom. Investigators found out that J.D. was a high school quarterback who enrolled at a Minnesota community college in 2019 with the intention of playing football.

• Bobby L. Mayweather, 33, of Blaine, Parker's former significant other, signed more than $24,000 worth of fraudulent PCA timesheets.

• Davis' brother-in-law, Marc Anthony Zeno, 55, of Gramercy, La., was reported to receive daily care from several PCAs from January 2015 to December 2017. Davis listed Marc Zeno as one of the people she brought into her fraud scheme and denied working for him. Marc Zeno then swapped roles and reported working as a PCA from May 2018 to January 2020 for several recipients including Davis. The Medicaid program paid more than $115,000 for Marc Zeno's PCA and recipient claims.

• Francis A. Finklea, 28, of Brooklyn Park, a friend of Davis', signed timesheets claiming that she provided daily PCA services in the Davis-Zeno home for almost two years.

• Brianna R. Foss, 20, of Brooklyn Center, the significant other of Davis' nephew, reported that she provided almost 1,200 hours of PCA care in 2020 but could not tell investigators the name of the company she worked for, where it was located, or her hourly wage.

• Elbridge C. Johnson, 48, of Plymouth, reported receiving more than 1,075 hours of services from PCAs.

Davis' co-defendants all were charged by summons. Court records showed no defense representation as of Thursday.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482