CEO Of Disability Nonprofit Ordered To Pay $150K For Medicaid Fraud
ATLANTA — The operator of a Gwinnett County nonprofit pleaded guilty last week to being involved in scamming adults with disabilities out of money they were entitled to through the Georgia Medicaid program, authorities said.
Jennifer Lynn Robinette, the CEO of Wishes 4 Me Foundation, Inc., pleaded guilty to a count of Medicaid fraud, exploitation of an adult with a disability and two counts of first-degree forgery, the Georgia Attorney General’s Office said.
She was accused of defrauding the Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP), which is a Georgia Medicaid program intended to help adults with disabilities live more independently in their own homes.
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She was sentenced to six months of house arrest with an electric ankle monitor, followed by 9 1/2 years of probation.
Robinette, 55, wrongfully used the Georgia Medicaid program to fund the nonprofit, which claimed to provide “structured living for adults with disabilities” and help “disabled adults live a more active lifestyle,” according to its website.
However, she assumed control of her residents’ participation in the program, forging their names on documents submitted to the Department of Community Health, the attorney general’s office said. That led to a raid on the residents’ homes and facilities last month.
While managing the nonprofit, she convinced residents to open joint bank accounts with her, which she used to transfer funds without their knowledge or permission, the attorney general’s office said. In total, she pleaded guilty to facilitating the payment of more than $800,000 to herself and others, $150,000 of which was deposited into her own bank accounts.
In addition to her 10-year sentence, she also was ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the Georgia Medicaid program and $2,500 to a former resident of Wishes 4 Me.
She’s also “prohibited from directly, or indirectly through Wishes 4 Me or any other entity or individual, serving as a fiduciary for any disabled adult or elder person in any capacity,” the attorney general’s office said. She’s also excluded from participating or associating with the Georgia Medicaid program.
Three other women, Tonya Joy Ward, 62, Bethany Braga, 41, and Ronnika Barton, 42, also face charges in connection with the alleged scheme. Their cases are still pending.
In December, the nonprofit was at the center of a national story when a 22-year-old Johns Creek man with autism died after falling overboard on a Carnival cruise ship. Luke Renner was traveling in a group of nine, which included three Wishes 4 Me chaperones.
The investigation into this incident was conducted by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Division and the Gwinnett County Police Department.
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