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Authorities: Lyndhurst Child Autism Counselor Billed 'Phantom' Sessions

Stephanie Fleming
Stephanie Fleming Photo Credit: COURTESY: NJ Attorney General

LYNDHURST, N.J. -- An in-home counselor from Lyndhurst who worked with children with autism collected more than $9,000 in Medicaid payments for "phantom" sessions, state authorities charged.

Stephanie Fleming, 38, was named in a 43-count grand jury indictment returned in Hackensack that charges her with repeated theft, forgery and health claims fraud between March 1, 2012 and July of this year.

Fleming "fraudulently submitted Medicaid documentation seeking reimbursement for full counseling and therapy 'encounter' sessions with children that she either did not conduct at all, or that she began but failed to complete," acting state Attorney General John J. Hoffman said this afternoon.

“Although any attempt to defraud government health care programs is unlawful and cannot be tolerated, it is particularly deplorable that this defendant allegedly billed for services provided to children with autism that she did not provide,” Hoffman said. “This kind of callous program abuse costs us all.”

“Every dollar lost to alleged Medicaid fraud is one less dollar available to help some of the most vulnerable citizens of our state," added acting state Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi.

Authorities allege the crimes occurred while Fleming was working for an in-home service and Medicaid provider in Morris County that provides eligible beneficiary families with therapy and counseling services in their homes.

"The company’s client base is primarily youth with autism, and the objective of the in-home counseling and therapy sessions is to improve –or stabilize – the children’s level of functioning within the home, in school and in the community," Hoffman said.

"The indictment’s theft by deception count goes to Fleming’s actual receipt of payment from New Jersey’s Medicaid program in the total amount of $9,045," he said. "In addition, the indictment charges Fleming with multiple counts of forgery for allegedly forging or falsifying the signatures of Medicaid beneficiary parents or guardians on treatment encounter forms required as part of Medicaid reimbursement documentation."

Deputy Attorney General Peter Sepulveda presented the case to the grand jury. Detective Laura Parisi conducted the investigation.

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