By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A South Dakota woman was convicted this week on multiple counts of health care fraud and identify theft in Wyoming.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Cheyenne annnounced Holli Telford Lundahl, 64, was convicted on three charges of health care fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft after a one-week trial in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne. She is accused of using other people’s identities to bill Wyoming Medicaid for work that was never done.
She is scheduled to be sentenced in July and will serve at least four years, two for each identify theft count. Those sentences will be consecutive to any prison term imposed for the health care fraud, but may be imposed concurrent to one another.
A fine of up to $250,000 could be imposed for each count.
In March 2020, Lundahl was indicted on the charges, which were connected to three overlapping schemes to defraud Wyoming Medicaid by submitting false claims for long-term care provided to Lundahl’s sister.
The evidence at trial showed that Wyoming Medicaid operates a long-term care program designed to keep beneficiaries out of nursing homes and other institutional settings. This program provides limited payments for certain direct support services provided to beneficiaries by properly qualified and enrolled workers.
Lundahl, using her niece’s name, Social Security number and other identifying information, enrolled her niece in this program as a caregiver for Lundahl’s sister.
Lundahl then submitted claims to Wyoming Medicaid for direct support work she said was done by the niece’s when in fact the niece had not provided any services. Lundahl’s niece did not know her identity was being used and had never been to Wyoming before testifying at trial.
The false information provided by Lundahl caused Wyoming Medicaid money to be paid in the niece’s name into a credit union account controlled by Lundahl.
Evidence at trial also proved that Lundahl advertised for a direct support worker in Lusk. When a young woman responded to the ad, Lundahl convinced the woman to share her social security number and other identification information with Lundahl in order to be hired.
The woman worked one day, was paid cash for her time and was not asked to return.
Lundahl then used the young woman’s information to submit false claims to Wyoming Medicaid for direct support work that the woman did not perform.
As a result, Wyoming Medicaid money was paid in the young woman’s name into a credit union account controlled by Lundahl.
Finally, evidence at trial proved that Lundahl enrolled herself as a direct support worker when she had a power of attorney for her sister and therefore could not be enrolled under Medicaid’s long-term care rules.
Lundahl then submitted claims to Wyoming Medicaid for direct support work when she was not eligible to be paid for this work and she received Wyoming Medicaid money was paid to her when she was not eligible to receive such payments.
“I applaud my litigation team, the court and the Wyoming Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for stopping this blatant abuse of the system,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “Identifying and preventing Medicaid fraud continues to be one of our highest priorities and we remain steadfast in ensuring that Medicaid dollars are preserved for those who most need them.”