RICHMOND, Va. — A Richmond woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal healthcare fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.
Chermeca Harris, 36, a Medicaid beneficiary, misrepresented her health condition to health care providers in order to obtain health care benefits, according to court documents.
Those documents say that Harris falsely represented that she was suffering from sickle cell anemia.
Prosecutors say she lied about having the disease to obtain pain killing drugs, such as dilaudid, which she wanted to receive intravenously through the neck.
Court documents show that doctors tested Harris and determined that she did not have sickle cell anemia. Numerous local hospitals were involved in the testing including, VCU Medical Center, Chippenham, Bon Secours St. Mary’s, Memorial Regional, John Randolph Medical Center, and Henrico Doctor’s.
According to federal court documents, the Medicaid fraud was a further part of scheme, where Harris falsely represented her identity.
Harris used the name M.M. and R.J., both of whom received Medicaid, said investigators.
The 36-year-old has been charged as part of the largest ever health care fraud enforcement action by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.
The case involves 412 defendants across 41 federal districts, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals.
The health care fraud schemes involve approximately $1.3 billion in false billings.
Harris pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud on the Medicaid program and aggravated identity theft.
She faces a mandatory minimum of two years in prison and a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison.
Harris will be sentenced by a federal district court judge on October 26, 2017.