SPOKANE – Attorney General Rob McKenna joined with the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Washington and his local Medicaid fraud and criminal justice teams in Spokane today to discuss his office’s increased Eastern Washington emphasis on criminal justice issues.
McKenna discussed the expansion of the Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) and the office’s new criminal justice division presence in Spokane.
“The increased presence in Eastern Washington will allow us to better serve both the people of Washington and our clients,” McKenna said. “Our Spokane Division has already established itself as a central part of the Spokane legal community and these additions will help strengthen our local connections.”
The Attorney General’s Office Criminal Justice Division had already established a presence in the Spokane Division through its two Homicide Investigation Tracking Systems (HITS) investigators, Jim Hansen and Rick Grabenstein. HITS is a program within the Attorney General’s Criminal Investigations Unit that tracks, investigates and maintains a searchable database of homicides, rapes and other violent crimes.
In December, Assistant Attorney General Kate McLachlan from the Criminal Justice Division moved over to Spokane, marking the first time the division had an attorney in Spokane. McLachlan represents the state Department of Corrections, including Airway Heights, the Washington State Penitentiary and all state prisons in Eastern Washington, and the state Clemency and Pardons Board.
In May, McKenna announced the promotion of Assistant Attorney General Tony Rugel to lead the new Eastern Washington Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. In late June, he announced the hiring of two new MFCU investigators – former U.S. Postal Inspector Larry Carlier and Grant Collins, who previously worked as an investigator for the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.
“This expansion allows us to have investigators and a prosecutor readily available to fight fraud in Eastern Washington, which is particularly important when you consider that between 30 and 40 percent of the unit’s cases were from Eastern Washington in 2005,” McKenna said. “The expansion will also allow for better coordination between our office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane.”
McKenna also thanked legislators for approving $150,000 in state funding and $450,000 in federal funding to allow the Attorney General’s Office to add the new prosecutor, support staff and as many as three investigators to the MFCU.
The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was established in 1978 as part of the Department of Social and Health Services’ Office of Special Investigation. In 1989, the MFCU was fully and finally transferred to the Attorney General’s Office.
The MFCU recovered more than $9 million for Washington state last year through the investigation and prosecution of fraudulent providers.
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