Government workers admit to fleecing public healthcare programs

Insider crime made news recently after current and former government workers pleaded guilty to committing healthcare fraud on the job.

Akim Murray, an employee of the Medicaid reimbursement unit of the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), was responsible for issuing payments for Medicaid-eligible expenses; but he rigged the system to send checks to his friends and criminal cronies, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Murray's co-conspirators gave him up to 70 percent of the scam's proceeds.

Murray used loopholes in HRA's systems to generate and then unilaterally approve checks based on the personal identifying information of his co-conspirators. More than $1.3 million in wrongful Medicaid payments followed, the announcement stated.  

"For over a year, Akim Murray used his job within New York City government to essentially embezzle funds intended to benefit low-income people entitled to reimbursements for certain of their healthcare payments," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in the announcement. "He stole from a program for people in need and gave the money to his friends and himself. Today, what Murray has earned is a felony conviction and the prospect of serious prison time."

Also facing time behind bars is former U.S. Department of Defense employee Jonathan M. Hargett, who pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud stemming from his employment from 1996 to 2012, according to Federal News Radio.

Hargett was a federal employee working abroad. He was insured through the foreign service benefit plan, and military service qualified him for additional healthcare benefits through the Veteran's Affairs Department.

Hargett reportedly filed more than $2.5 million in fraudulent invoices to the programs for prescription drugs purchased from a pharmacy in Germany, the article noted. He also falsely claimed to have received and paid for other healthcare items and services from a doctor overseas. 

Hargett must pay more than $2.2 million in restitution. He faces imprisonment of up to 57 months and a fine between $10,000 and $100,000, Federal News Radio added.         

For more:
- read the Justice Department announcement
- here's the Federal News Radio piece