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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2014
Attorney General charges Wheelchairs Plus with Medicaid fraud

Alleges company provided used wheelchairs instead of new to Medicaid clients, collected $606,980  

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has filed criminal charges against Michael Mann, owner of Wheelchairs Plus Inc., in Thurston County Superior Court. The AGO alleges Mann committed the crimes of First Degree Theft and Medicaid False Statement when he fraudulently provided 119 Medicaid recipients with used or refurbished wheelchairs while billing Medicaid as if they were new.  Mann billed the State Medicaid system a total of $606,980 for the wheelchairs. 

Overview of the alleged scheme

As stated in the Certification for Determination of Probable Cause, the AGO investigation found that from 2006 – 2012, the defendant allegedly purchased previously used wheelchairs from websites such as craigslist.org or from nursing homes. The defendant would then refurbish each chair with a new coat of paint or replacement parts and then put a new label or serial number on it.

After the defendant had delivered the used wheelchair to a Medicaid client, he would allegedly submit a false claim to Medicaid stating that he had provided a new wheelchair. 

The arraignment is currently scheduled for August 12th in Thurston County Superior Court. The charges contained in the information are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

“The Attorney General’s Office will vigorously investigate and prosecute the defrauding of taxpayers,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.  

Medicaid Fraud Control in Washington state

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. The unit also coordinates with local law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect in cases involving vulnerable adults residing in Medicaid-funded residential facilities.

State Medicaid authorities, including the Health Care Authority and Department of Social and Health Services, assisted significantly in the fraud enforcement of these matters.

The DSHS Office of Fraud & Accountability investigates client fraud. You can report Medicaid Client Fraud via the Department’s Online Complaint Form, call the Welfare Fraud Hotline at 1-800-562-6906 or send the complaint to Welfare Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 45817, Olympia, Washington 98504-5817.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

CONTACT:
Alison Dempsey-Hall, Acting Communications Director, (206) 442-4482, alisond@atg.wa.gov

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