FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Monday, March 21, 2016
CONTACT: Sara Rabern (605)773-3215
Home Healthcare Provider Enters Guilty Plea in Medicaid Fraud Case
PIERRE, S.D.- Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that Tanka R. Bhujel, 38, Des Moines, IA, pleaded guilty on March 18, 2016, to one count of Making False Claims, a class 5 felony, pursuant to a plea agreement with the State.
“This prosecution reflects our determination to protect taxpayer dollars and the citizens of South Dakota,” Jackley said. “We also encourage patients and recipients to contact us if their care providers fail to show up, or fail to provide a sufficient level of care.”
Second Circuit Court Judge Douglas E. Hoffman ordered Bhujel to serve two years of probation and to complete 80 hours of community service. Judge Hoffman also ordered Bhujel to pay $990 in restitution to the South Dakota Medicaid program, $900 in attorney fees, and $104 in court costs. Judge Hoffman suspended the imposition of sentence, pending Bhujel's completion of the above conditions.
Bhujel admitted in a written Factual Basis Statement and in open court that he inflated the number of hours he worked and that he caused his employer to submit false claims to the South Dakota Medicaid program while Bhujel worked for Alpha Sigma Health Group in Sioux Falls.
Medicaid fraud investigators discovered Bhujel's false claims by monitoring his arrival and departure times at a care recipient’s house. For example, on February 19, 2015, Bhujel claimed that he had worked four hours, when in fact he was only at the care recipient's house for three minutes.
Special Agent in Charge, Steven D. Hanson, HHS/OIG, Kansas City, MO, stated, “Our office will continue to work jointly with our law enforcement partners to bring those to justice who defraud the Medicaid program.”
The case was investigated and prosecuted by the South Dakota Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with assistance from the South Dakota Department of Social Services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the Sioux Falls Police Department, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.