FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 10, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court, an Apple Valley woman was charged with defrauding both her employer and Medica. On January 9, 2012, Lori Jo Mueller, age 48, was charged via an Information with one count of wire fraud and one count of health care fraud.
Allegedly, from June of 2006 through June of 2012, Mueller embezzled approximately $840,000 from Edelweiss Home Health Care and used the funds for her personal use. Mueller began working for Edelweiss, located in Osseo, in 2002, and was promoted to the position of vice president of operations. In that capacity, Mueller was responsible for the review and payment of corporate invoices, bookkeeping, and other financial matters. Mueller allegedly used her access to the corporate checking account to issue payments from corporate accounts to herself. Also, Mueller allegedly concealed her actions from the company owners and made misrepresentations concerning the company’s financial state.
In addition, from March of 2010 through June of 2012, Mueller allegedly defrauded Medica, a health care benefit program. She purportedly submitted claims to various insurers, seeking reimbursement for services provided by Edelweiss nursing staff. In some instances, Mueller double-billed by submitting claims for the same services to multiple insurance providers. For example, Mueller allegedly billed both Minnesota Medicaid and Medica for services provided to one client. The double-billing resulted in a double-payment to Edelweiss with Medicaid being the proper payer and Medica being the overpayer. As a result of this criminal behavior, Mueller obtained for Edelweiss more than $631,000 in fraudulent proceeds. Medica is a non-profit corporation that provides health insurance products to families and individuals.
If convicted in this case, Mueller faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on the wire fraud count and ten years on the health care fraud count. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (“DHHS-OIG”). It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Genrich.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office participates in a task force with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office that focuses on home health care fraud trends. The task force includes the DHHS-OIG, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners.
As a result of federal convictions for health care fraud, defendants are excluded from participating in federal health benefit programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Exclusion determinations are made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nationwide, more than 3,000 individuals were excluded from program participation in Fiscal Year 2010 based upon criminal convictions or patient abuse or neglect, license revocations, or other factors.