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Pittsfield Man Among Caretakers Charged With Defrauding State Medical System

BOSTON – A personal care attendant (PCA) and four PCA surrogates have been charged with allegedly defrauding the state's Medicaid program of more than $230,000 by falsely billing for services not rendered and double billing in a number of different cases, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

Among those indicted is Frederick Phillips, 55, of Pittsfield, who allegedly stole $47,000 from MassHealth by double-billing for PCA and adult foster care services simultaneously between March 2011 and November 2013. Phillips was the PCA surrogate for his disabled brother.

The matter was referred by MassHealth after it received information that Phillips was both the PCA surrogate and AFC caretaker for his brother and purposely participated in and billed for both programs, in violation of MassHealth regulations.

A Berkshire County Grand Jury returned the indictment on Feb. 10.

Phillips was indicted on one count of Medicaid false claims and one count of larceny over $250 by false pretenses. He was arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday, Feb. 17, when he pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on personal recognizance. Phillips is due back in court on May 2 for a pre-trial hearing.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Evelyn Tang and was investigated by Senior Investigator Michael Russo and Investigator April Waterhouse, all of Healey's Medicaid Fraud Division, with assistance from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG).

A total of 18 indictments were returned by Plymouth, Berkshire, Essex, and Worcester County grand juries and are the result of criminal investigations conducted by Healey's Medicaid Fraud Division. A criminal complaint, including charges of neglecting a disabled person, has also been issued against a PCA who will be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on March 2.

The cases include allegations of billing MassHealth for services that were not provided, double billing for PCA and adult foster care (AFC) services, and charging for home care when a patient was hospitalized, along with several other schemes.

"MassHealth provides critical healthcare services for people who otherwise cannot afford them," said Healey in a statement. "We allege that these individuals exploited this system and defrauded taxpayers, while at the same time diverting resources from those in need."

The MassHealth PCA Program helps people with chronic or long-term disabilities live independently. The program provides funds to pay PCAs who help patients with activities of daily living while members receiving the services act as the PCA's employer. By regulation, PCA services cannot be provided while a MassHealth member is admitted to an inpatient facility or nursing home.

MassHealth members who are unable to manage the hiring, training and firing of PCAs themselves may pick a "surrogate" to act for them (typically a family member or legal guardian). MassHealth does not allow surrogates to provide PCA services, and does not pay them to act as surrogates.

The other individuals charged are:

Crystal Clark, 36, of Haverhill; indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury for allegedly she submitting fraudulent timesheets as the PCA surrogate for her disabled son. Authorities allege that she billed MassHealth more than $64,000 for services that were not provided.

Mary Yost, 53, of Middleborough; indicted by a Plymouth County Grand Jury for allegedly double-billing MassHealth for more than $86,000 by billing for PCA and AFC services given to her disabled son simultaneously between May 2009 and April 2014.

Scott Gibeault, 49, of Southbridge; indicted by a Worcester for allegedly submitting fraudulent timesheets indicating PCA services were provided by individuals who were out of state, working other jobs, or unable to provide service because the consumer was admitted to an inpatient facility.

Tamekha Lewis-Sturrup, 29, of Dorchester; a criminal complaint was issued against her in Boston Municipal Court  for allegedly fraudulently billing for approximately $8,600 in PCA services not rendered and for failing to provide services to a consumer resulting in hospitalization.

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Vermont Drug Sweep Nets Two North Adams Women

RUTLAND, Vt. — Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made a massive drug sweep in southwestern Vermont on Tuesday that has resulted in 20 arrests so far, including two North Adams, Mass., women.

One individual is still being sought and 10 more defendants are facing federal drug charges and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office as a result of arrests that took place during the past several weeks.  

Arrested were Cassie Morse, 26, and Shari Perras, 24, both of North Adams, both of whom are facing heroin charges.

All of these arrests were the culmination of enforcement efforts over the past year, specifically targeting those individuals involved in the distribution of illicit drugs. Drug enforcement efforts continue to focus on the heroin/opiate epidemic and distribution networks operating in Vermont communities.

The arrests were announced on Wednesday morning at a press conference in Rutland.

"These arrests involved people coming to Vermont from out of state and bringing heroin, and bringing crack but they also involve the local infrastructure that facilitates the sale of drugs in Vermont," said U.S. Attorney for Vermont Eric Miller at Wednesday's briefing. "Unless we continue to go after both of those groups, we're not going to be effective in combating this crisis."

Dozens of arrests have been made in the past 18 months of Vermonters and out-of-staters, mostly from Brooklyn, N.Y., he said, that have affected a loose organization of drug distribution.

"We think we made a significant dent in the organizations through these joint efforts," Miller said.

The Vermont Drug Task Force has worked collaboratively with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and local and county law enforcement agencies in southwestern Vermont to include state and federal prosecutors.

Arraignments will be held in the Bennington County Superior Court on Feb. 29 at 1 p.m and Rutland County Superior Court on March 7 at 1 p.m.

Chelsea Hill, 24 of Rutland, and Sherrie Fitzgerald, 52 of Rutland, will be arraigned at Rutland County Superior Court, Criminal Division on Feb. 19, at 1 p.m.

Charges listed below are single counts unless otherwise indicated:

State Defendants

  • Colleen M. Keefe, 43: sale of cocaine
  • Robert S. Grady, 34: sale of heroin, three counts
  • Timothy B. Euber, 38: sale of heroin
  • Casey Clifford, 22: sale of heroin, two counts; sale of fentanyl
  • Anthony Courcelle, 21: sale of heroin
  • Daniel Pyne, 30: sale of regulated drug (oxycodone)
  • Jerry Crandall, 46: sale of cocaine, sale of regulated drug (oxycodone)
  • Cassie Morse, 26: sale of heroin, two counts
  • Candi Peters, 36: sale of heroin, two counts
  • Shari Perras, 24: sale of heroin
  • Andrew Onorato, 31: sale of heroin, two counts
  • Chelsea Hill, 24: sale of heroin, two counts; conspiracy
  • Sheri Fitzgerald, 52: sale of heroin, conspiracy
  • Spencer Mumford, 23: sale of heroin
  • Kevin Scully, 25: sale of cocaine
  • Felicia Ackley, 28: sale of cocaine, two counts
  • Christopher Nadeau, 26: sale of heroin
  • William Manfredi, 36: sale of heroin
  • Carlos Vasquez, 42: heroin trafficking, heroin transportation and conspiracy
  • John Mason, 33: sale of heroin

 
Wanted
Richard Winnie, 42: sale heroin

Federal Arrests

Kevin Williams (aka Cap, Capone), 42: sale of heroin, three counts

Jason Tiraboschi, 27: possession of a firearm

Amanda Gibbons, 31, arrested 12/31/15, Indicted 1/7/16, charged with three counts of distribution of heroin, each count carrying potential maximum sentence of 20 years.  

Patrick Lorenzo, 33, arrested 1/12/16, Indicted 1/20/16, charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, carrying potential maximum sentence of 20 years.

Candace Alberti,  33, arrested 1/19/16, indicted on 2/3/16 charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, carrying potential maximum sentence of 20 years.  

Russell Gaspar, 32, arrested 1/19/16, indicted on 2/3/16 charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, carrying potential maximum sentence of 20 years.  

Mark McGinnis, 37, arrested 1/21/16, indicted, 2/11/16 charged with distribution of heroin, carrying potential maximum sentence of 20 years.

Jaiden Paige, 35, arrested 2/1/16, indicted 2/11/16, charged with distribution of heroin, carrying potential maximum sentence of 20 years.

Jennifer Webster, 26, arrested 2/1/16, indicted 2/11/16, charged with distribution of heroin, carrying potential maximum sentence of 20 years.

Kwasi Asante, 57, arrested 2/1/16, indicted 2/11/16, charged with distribution of heroin, carrying potential maximum sentence of 20 years.

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North Adams Woman Injured in Collision With Box Truck

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

The RAV 4 was peeled open to extricate the driver. Photos provided by a reader.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A 19-year-old North Adams woman is expected to be taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield after her vehicle collided with a box truck Tuesday morning.
 
Police say Samantha Scutt, 19, of North Adams was southbound on Route 8 when she veered into oncoming traffic and collided with a 2010 Chevrolet box truck driven by Carl Gasco, 50, of Millbury. The crash occurred at about 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Route 8 and Old State Road. The box truck, owned by Linders Inc. of Worcester, also hit a utility pole and electrical wires were hanging "dangerously close" to the scene.
 
Scutt was trapped inside of her 2002 Toyota RAV 4 for an hour and a half before she could be extricated using the Jaws of Life and taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. A state trooper got into her vehicle to stay with her through the ordeal.
 
Police say she has serious injuries and is expected to be transferred to Baystate. Gasco was also taken to Berkshire Medical Center with broken legs and possible internal bleeding. 
 
Responders from Lanesborough, Pittsfield, Cheshire and Dalton fire department, and County Ambulance worked to extricate the two operators.
 
The crash led Route 8 to be closed for nearly six hours. Scutt will be cited for a marked lanes violation.
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Police Believe Honda Involved in Williamstown Hit & Run

Staff Reports

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Police now believe a Honda was involved in the incident that injured a woman on North Hoosac Road last week.

Cheryl Leclaire was apparently struck by a car on the evening of Feb. 9 and found laying in the road. She remains in the intensive care unit at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield in critical condition.

According to Williamstown and state police, three small plastic fender rivets were located at the scene. The rivets have been determined to be used exclusively in Hondas, but are ordinary with no traceable serial or model numbers.

Honda uses the rivets on 12 models beginning with 2012s and newer. The models and years are:

  • Accord: 2013-16
  • Civic: 2014-16
  • Crosstour: 2013-15
  • CRV: 2013-16
  • CRZ: 2013-16
  • Fit: 2015-16
  • HRV: 2016
  • Hybrid: 2014-15
  • Insight: 2012-14
  • Odyssey: 2013-16
  • Pilot: 2014-16
  • Ridgeline: 2014

Damage to the vehicle should be concentrated to the lower front passenger side bumper and/or passenger fender liner.

Anyone who may have any information is asked to contact Williamstown Police Sgt. Scott McGowan at 413-458-5733 or Trooper Ryan Dickinson at 413-499-1112. Information can remain anonymous.
 

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Stamford Accident Sends 2 to Hospital

Staff Reports

STAMFORD, Vt. — Two North Adams, Mass., residents were injured after their car slammed into a tree on Main Road on Sunday morning.

Joelle M. Peterson, 34, and her passenger, Zachariah Chaffy, 36, were northbound on Route 8/100 in a 1999 Subaru Legacy before noon when Peterson lost control of the vehicle.

"The vehicle hit an icy patch of snow that had accumulated on the roadway. The operator was unable to maintain control of the vehicle and left the roadway before striking a tree," according to the report by State Trooper Alex Saxby.

The weather was clear but Saxby reported blowing snow across the highway.

The Subaru veered across the southbound lane, hitting the tree on the lawn of 289 Main Road. The accident occurred on the slight curve just south of Billmont's Country Store.

Both of the car's occupants were wearing seat belts. Peterson suffered minor abrasions and Chaffy, a broken hip. Both were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Mass. The Subaru was considered totalled.

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Stop Ignoring Recall Letters From Auto Manufacturers
Clarksburg Town Meeting, Election Set This Week
Tyer Calls For $1M Police Department Boost in Wake of Shootings
Berkshires Beat: Honoring Downing On His Way Out

Police Logs

Pittsfield Police

North Adams

Crimewatch Links

North Adams CrimeWatch

Stamford/Clarksburg CrimeWatch

Pittsfield CrimeWatch

Emergency: 911
Adams 413-743-1212
Clarksburg 413-663-7795
Cheshire 413-743-1501
Dalton 413-684-0300
Great Barrington 413-528-0306
Lanesborough 413-443-4107
Lee 413-243-2100
Lenox 413-637-2346
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Williamstown 413-458-5733
West Stockbridge 413-232-7938
State Police  
Cheshire Barracks
413-743-
4700
Lee Barracks 413-243-0600
Shaftsbury, Vt., Barracks 802-442-3263

 



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