Four people have been charged in a Medicaid fraud scheme that investigators say ran for three years.
Kathie Beaver, 62, of Benson; Dawn Doty-Cioffi, 58, of Granville, New York; Gabrielle Baker, 21, of Wells, and Emily Cenate, 21, of Granville, New York, all pleaded not guilty Monday district court to a felony charge each of welfare fraud and false pretenses.
The charges carry a potential combined maximum of 20 years in prison. Each of the women was released on conditions including that they come to court when told and not be charged with any additional crimes.
According to court records, Beaver was submitting fraudulent pay sheets for the three women, who she had hired to serve as caregivers for her grandson, and then splitting the pay with them for the time they did not work. Investigators said Beaver did this with people in addition to the three who were charged, but that those incidents were past the statute of limitations.
Investigators said Beaver is the primary caretaker of her grandson, referred to in affidavits as “RA,” and as such received Medicaid funds through Children’s Personal Care Services to hire caretakers for him. Caretakers sign their timesheets, according to court records, which Beaver would then also sign and submit to the state’s payroll contractor.
The Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office received a complaint in late September of 2017 from Cenate’s mother, according to affidavits, who reported the scheme as being between Beaver and Baker.
Further investigation identified Cenate and Doty-Cioffi as also in Beaver’s employ on RA’s behalf, according to affidavits, and that Baker and Doty-Cioffi had “substantial timesheet conflicts with other employers” when they were supposedly caring for RA.
Investigators said that when they initially interviewed Beaver, she claimed to have fired Baker for not working all the hours she was supposed to have, but that all the other caregivers had worked appropriate hours. In a second interview, according to court records, Beaver initially continued her denials but then admitted to the scheme, saying the other three were knowing and willing participants, signing off on pay sheets for more hours than they had worked, and that she used the money for household expenses and to take care of RA.
Investigators said Baker and Doty-Cioffi also confessed, telling stories consistent with Beaver’s, but that Cenate had hired a lawyer by the time they sought to interview her and declined to comment.
Court records were unclear as to how much money was fraudulently paid out, but noted that more than $100,000 was paid out to caregivers for RA between 2009 and 2017.