The Edmond Sun

Local News

June 18, 2012

AG pursues charges in Guthrie Medicaid fraud case

EDMOND — Four employees of a Guthrie Medicaid counseling services provider face fraud-related charges, according to court records.

Charges have been filed in Oklahoma County District Court by the state attorney general’s office against several employees of Pure Hope Corporation for their alleged involvement in a scheme to bill for sessions without providing services.

Pure Hope Corporation, 2403 S. Division, Guthrie, was contracted with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to provide counseling services for Medicaid recipients, according to court records.

In July 2011, a member of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was investigating another counseling agency when it was learned Pure Hope was billing the OHCA for services not being provided for new clients, according to court records.

Behavioral health counseling services are only provided after an initial assessment is conducted and a subsequent treatment plan with a diagnosis and treatment modality is generated, according to court records.

Pure Hope employees allegedly would complete the intake and assessment paperwork for a new client and bill for services even though the client was not seen for immediate care sessions prior to that date, according to court records.

Employees would create session dates before the intake date and create alleged false progress notes using quotes from the client generated through the intake paperwork, according to court records. They would then allegedly submit the false progress notes as the basis for the claims billed by Pure Hope to the OHCA.

During interviews with investigators, Pure Hope clients and the parents or guardians of underage clients verified when services were provided and identified dates when no counseling occurred, including dates when Pure Hope billed the OHCA for Medicaid reimbursement, according to court records.  

Bobby Harlan Long, 26, of Guthrie, a licensed professional counselor and the executive director and owner of Pure Hope, was responsible for any billing submitted to the OHCA, according to court records. When the agency made payments to Pure Hope the funds were directly deposited into an account that Long reportedly managed.

Long was arrested Thursday after being charged with four counts of Medicaid fraud. Long allegedly billed the OHCA $22,318 for services provided between June and October, according to court records.

Joseph Walters, Long’s attorney, said the case will be vigorously defended and his client will be entering the appropriate plea in court. Walters said he could not comment further on the case at this time.

Stephanie Renee Brown, 33, of Edmond, a licensed professional counselor and clinical director for Pure Hope, turned herself in to authorities on Friday after being charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, according to the AG’s office.

Christopher Lawrence Lester, 32, of Oklahoma City, a a licensed professional counselor under supervision and branch manager for Pure Hope, was arrested Friday after being charged with one count of Medicaid fraud.

Megan La’Shawn Goodwin, 26, of Oklahoma City, a behavioral health rehabilitation specialist, turned herself in to authorities on Friday after being charged with one count of Medicaid fraud.

Melissa Nana Van Kirk, 45, of Stillwater, a clinical psychologist and licensed behavioral practitioner was arrested Thursday after being charged with one count of Medicaid fraud.  

Attorney information for the other defendants was not immediately available. The defendants are to be presumed innocent by the public until proven guilty in a court of law.

Pure Hope closed in October and is no longer in business. Attorney information for the remaining defendants was not immediately available. | 341-2121, ext. 108

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