A 65-year-old woman pleaded guilty Friday to her role in a fraud scheme in which more than $45 million in bogus billings were submitted to a state program for alcohol and drug treatment services for students who often did not need treatment.

Former location of Atlantic Health Services office in Long Beach. Photo via Google Maps
Carrenda Jeffery, of mid-city Los Angeles, entered her plea to a federal health care fraud charge before U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez, who scheduled an Oct. 3 sentencing hearing. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars.

Jeffery — who worked at Long Beach-based Atlantic Health Services, formerly known as Atlantic Recovery Services, or ARS — managed counselors at three charter schools operated by the nonprofit Soledad Enrichment Action, federal prosecutors said.

Prosecutors contend ARS was designed to exploit at-risk youth and defraud taxpayers, with Jeffery and other supervisors telling staffers to forge student signatures, falsify treatment records and enroll students who had no need for services.

A 40-count indictment returned in September by a Los Angeles federal grand jury against Jeffery and seven co-defendants alleges that the now-defunct ARS received more than $45 million from California’s Drug Medi-Cal program after phony claims for group and individual substance counseling services were submitted during a 10-year period.

The company shut down in April 2013, when California suspended payments to the enterprise.

According to the indictment, the claims submitted to the Drug Medi-Cal program were false partly because ARS billed for services provided to students who did not have substance abuse disorders or addictions and therefore did not qualify to receive the services.

Angela Frances Micklo, a Palmdale woman who managed counselors at nine schools in Los Angeles County, previously pleaded guilty to health care fraud and will be sentenced in November.

Maribel Navarro, of Pico Rivera, who managed counselors at 10 schools in Los Angeles County, is scheduled to enter a guilty plea in the case on Monday.

Lori Renee Miller, of Lakewood, a program manager at ARS, and four others face trial before Gutierrez in August.

— City News Service

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