A Baton Rouge grand jury on Thursday returned indictments against the owners of a Hammond personal care business for their role in operating a criminal enterprise designed to siphon dollars from the Louisiana Medicaid Program. Several of the married couple’s family members were also charged for their involvement in the scheme. Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit presented the case to the grand jury.
Cassandra N. Dangerfield, 52, and her husband, Eric Dangerfield, 59, both of 112 Washington Avenue, Hammond, were charged with one felony count each of racketeering, one felony count each of criminal conspiracy to commit forgery and theft by fraud, six felony counts of theft by fraud, and one felony count of money laundering. Cassandra N. Dangerfield was also charged with one felony count of filing and/or maintaining false public records and one felony count of Medicaid fraud. The Dangerfields, owners of 1st Thessalonians Community Programs Inc., had operated and billed the Louisiana Medicaid Program more than $18 million from 2002 to 2009.
“The defendants are accused of stealing precious resources from the Louisiana Medicaid Program,” said Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. “Our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s efforts have never been more aggressive. We will continue to work with our partners to protect taxpayers and fight against health care fraud.”
"There are no excuses for Medicaid fraud and there will be no leniency for those foolish enough to attempt it,” said Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "These thieves are stealing taxpayer money and robbing vulnerable residents of needed care. I'll keep working with the Attorney General to root them out and punish them swiftly."
Keosha Neshay Martin, 30, of 12846 Delores Drive, Baton Rouge, the niece of Cassandra N. Dangerfield, was charged with one felony count of racketeering and one felony count of conspiracy to commit forgery. In a separate indictment, Martin was also charged along with her parents, Colston J. Martin, Jr., 58, of 35235 Martin Road, Mount Hermon, and Lorraine Lee Martin, 59, of 25059 Vernon Subdivision Road, Mount Hermon, with one felony count each of conspiracy to commit Medicaid fraud and one felony count each of Medicaid fraud.
In another separate indictment, Meather M. Johnson, 59, and her daughter, Ashley Saritha Johnson, 28, both of 400 Bonita Street, Hammond and related to Eric Dangerfield, were charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to commit Medicaid fraud and one felony count each of Medicaid fraud.
The racketeering indictment alleges that the Dangerfields, Martin and the company as a corporate defendant operated a criminal enterprise based on a pattern of corrupt business practices and various fraudulent schemes to commit theft by fraud of more than $1,000 each against the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals through the Louisiana Medicaid Program. The remaining two indictments against the Martin and Johnson defendants claim that services were billed to the Louisiana Medicaid Program when defendants knew services were not being delivered given that the caretakers had outside employment.
If convicted as charged, the defendants could face the following maximum penalties: Cassandra N. Dangerfield faces imprisonment up to a maximum of 239 years imprisonment and a total maximum fine of $1,101,000. Eric Dangerfield faces imprisonment up to a maximum of 229 years imprisonment and a total maximum fine of $1,076,000. Keosha Neshay Martin faces imprisonment up to a maximum of 60 years and a total maximum fine of $1,005,000 on the racketeering indictment and imprisonment up to a maximum of 10 years and a total maximum fine of $40,000 on the conspiracy/Medicaid fraud indictment. Colston J. Martin Jr., Lorraine Lee Martin, Meather M. Johnson and Ashley Saritha Johnson each face up to a maximum of 10 years and a total maximum fine of $40,000 on the conspiracy/Medicaid fraud indictment. The company faces a maximum fine of $1,101,000.
The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit first opened its criminal investigation into the operation of 1st Thessalonians Community Programs, Inc., in early 2006. To date, 17 former employees stand convicted for their roles in defrauding the Louisiana Medicaid Program with one other former employee awaiting trial on pending felony charges. The convictions were obtained by the Attorney General’s Office.