A drug counseling center in upstate New York has been the focus of investigation recently. According to Rocco LaDuca at the Utica Observer-Dispatch, former executive director of a Clinton counseling center, Ole Pettersen, is undergoing investigation for charges of Medicaid fraud.
According to LaDuca, Ole Pettersen, 57, is charged with “second-degree grand larceny as well as multiple charges of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. The charges are in relation to more than $500,000 in questionable Medicaid benefits.”
Basically, he was claiming that he had more patients on methadone or addicted to drugs than he did in order to get more funding from the state that had been earmarked for drug addiction treatment. The counseling center received funds between 2003 and 2006 from Medicaid for this purpose that it, apparently, was not entitled to.
The Evidence of Fraud
Two employees have testified to falsifying documents, but it’s the purpose of these documents that is under debate currently at the Oneida County Courthouse. One of these employees, formerly his personal assistant, Alicia Roman, testified that she had been the one to create some of the falsified documents but under the direction of Pettersen who misled her by saying that their patients would need a second form created in order to enroll in another drug addiction treatment program.
She said that she did falsify the date by predating it rather than dating it accurately when she filled out the form, and that she did not reassess the patients when she created the second document to make sure that they still needed drug addiction treatment services.
The Defense Against Fraud
Well, for starters, the defense is saying that these forms were never meant to be used fraudulently, that instead, they were actually for the purpose of enrolling the patients in another drug addiction treatment facility. The fact that they made the numbers add up in such a way that there were enough patients at Pettersen’s facility to qualify for state funding? Well….
And as for the backdating, which in and of itself is illegal, the defense says that the dates on the form were not meant to denote the day that the forms were filled out. So what date were they meant to reflect? Uh….
Also, there’s the implication that perhaps Roman is a bit bitter about being fired by Pettersen because the two disagreed about the types of treatment that patients should receive and is not telling whole truths, an implication that Roman denies.
The defense applies the same theory to the second employee who testified to filling out documents fraudulently, former drug abuse counselor Leslie Milazzo, saying that she, too, is bitter after being fired after only several months of employment at Pettersen’s clinic. Her claim? She was told to “clean up” some files on patients who were taking methadone and change some of the dates so that Pettersen’s clinic would be in compliance with state regulations.
Testimony will continue. We’ll see how it turns out.
By Wendy Lee Nentwig