A Jacksonville mental-health clinic president and a former health-care business operator from North Carolina will face federal judges in Jacksonville over charges involving about $1.4 million in Medicaid fraud.
Shawn Thorpe, president of Coastal Bay Behavioral Health Inc. on Touchton Road, has been charged with conspiring to defraud the federal government by secretly partnering with a man who was already blacklisted from Medicaid.
That man, Ruben McLain, ran a series of health-care companies around Winston-Salem, N.C., before being sentenced to two years in prison for health-care fraud and tax crimes.
Medicaid wouldn’t have paid for work involving McLain, so he used an alias — Julian Winchester — to do work at Coastal Bay that ranged from seeing patients to hiring and firing people, prosecutors charged in court documents.
Thorpe knew the name was fake, too, and knew McLain couldn’t be paid by Medicaid, according to a document often used when a defendant agrees in advance to plead guilty to a specific charge. Both Thorpe and McLain are scheduled to enter pleas Tuesday morning in hearings before different judges.
In the information, prosecutors charged McLain received about $1.2 million from Medicaid by working through Coastal Bay between early 2014 and last month.
At least part of that time, he apparently owed the federal government a lot of money and was pleading he couldn’t pay it. McLain had been ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution when he was convicted in 2011, and was told to pay at least $100 a month when he got out of prison.
But in January 2015, a federal judge approved a months-old application to lower that payment to $25 per month. The application said McLain was trying to support his wife and four kids on a net income of just $460 a month earned from part-time work at a health-care company, federal court records show.
Prosecutors want McLain to forfeit about $1.2 million and Thorpe to forfeit $211,000.
How Thorpe and McLain would have ever crossed paths isn’t clear from court records, but they appear to have had some connection for years.
Court records from North Carolina say that McLain and his wife opened a bank account in the name Triage Behavioral Health System in 2006. McLain dissolved a company with that name in 2008. Thorpe created a company in Fort Lauderdale called Triage Behavioral Health and Human Services LLC in 2010, less than two weeks before McLain was indicted, and dissolved it the next year, state records show.
Thorpe is being represented by an attorney from Winston-Salem, Chris Beechler. A court docket on Friday listed Thorpe as a fugitive, but Beechler told a reporter that wasn’t accurate.
“Mr. Thorpe is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, and he and I will be present,” Beechler said by email.
A U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman later said that prosecutors don’t consider him a fugitive.
Besides Jacksonville, Coastal Bay’s website lists locations in Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach, but phone numbers posted for those were all disconnected Friday.
Steve Patterson: (904) 359-4263