SPOKANE — A Spokane woman was sentenced Friday for fraudulently billing the government for in-home care she did not provide to a vulnerable adult male who suffers from a traumatic brain injury and other illnesses.
Melissa Katruska was contracted through the state’s Medicaid program to provide 178 hours of care per month for a man who needs intensive assistance with meal preparation, personal hygiene, transportation, dressing, obtaining medications, physical transfers and housework. But according to charges filed by Assistant Attorney General Lynn Mounsey Longmeier, Katruska provided care for less than half of those hours. As a result of her false claims, Katruska was overpaid at least $20,000 by Washington’s Medicaid program.
“This sentence sends a message to those who dare to defraud our Medicaid program,” Mounsey Longmeier said. “The state will aggressively pursue those who abuse their trusted roles as caregivers in order to extract unearned dollars from taxpayers.”
The investigation, conducted by Amy L. Rose of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, shows that the Spokane Fire Department was contacted 69 times to aid Katruska’s client during the months when Katruska was contracted to provide care but was not present. In addition, charging documents show that Katruska admits to providing in-home child care for someone’s else’s child — and getting paid for it — during many of the same hours that she was contracted to provide care for her Medicaid client.
Melissa Katruska pled guilty to two counts of Theft in the First Degree and eight counts of Medicaid False Statement. Spokane Superior Court Judge Annette Plese sentenced her to 30 days of confinement, 12 months of community custody and payment of $20,000 in restitution to the Department of Social and Health Services.
The Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of healthcare provider fraud committed against the state’s Medicaid program. In addition, the unit coordinates the investigation and prosecution of abuse and neglect involving vulnerable adults residing in Medicaid funded residential facilities with local law enforcement authorities through a statewide contact network.
Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725