ARIZONA NEWS

7 Arizona defendants charged in health care fraud scheme as part of nationwide DOJ crackdown

Jul 1, 2024, 12:00 PM

Seven Arizona defendants charged with health care fraud...

U.S. Attorney for Arizona Gary Restaino announced charges against the seven suspected fraudsters last week. (File photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

(File photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Seven Arizona defendants have been charged with taking part in various health care fraud schemes, authorities announced last week.

The defendants allegedly tried to defraud Medicare and Medicaid providers out of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

They specifically targeted the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment system (AHHCS). This system provides health care services to Native Americans through the American Indian Health Program, the office said.

U.S. Attorney for Arizona Gary Restaino said these fraud schemes stole from Native American communities.

“These cases involve not just massive fraud to steal public funds, but also exploitation of vulnerable victims and the misappropriation of resources earmarked for Native American communities,” Restaino said in a news release. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our investigative partners will pursue justice against those who perpetrate these sorts of schemes with the utmost vigor.”

Who are the seven Arizona defendants accused of health care fraud?

Each of the suspects was charged by indictment in June:

  • Alexandra Gehrke
  • Jeffery King
  • Bethany Jameson
  • Carlos Ching
  • Rita Anagho
  • Adam Mutwol
  • Daud Koleosho

Two of the suspects, Gehrke and King, allegedly targeted elderly Medicare patients for medically unnecessary wound grafts. Many of these victims were terminally ill and in hospice care, prosecutors said.

“Medicare and other health care benefit programs paid over $600 million based on the false and fraudulent claims they submitted for these vulnerable beneficiaries,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona said.

Authorities arrested Gehrke and King in Sky Harbor International Airport on June 17. They were allegedly trying to fly out of the country.

Arizona charges part of nationwide crack down on health care fraud

Restaino’s announcement of criminal charges joined a two-week long nationwide sweep of health care fraudsters spearheaded by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, which identified nearly 200 suspects.

In fact, the charges filed in Arizona are just a small portion of a much larger operation.

That operation is the 2024 National Health Care Fraud Enforcement Action, which the Department of Justice filed last week. The purpose of the filing is to unearth medical fraud across the U.S.

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7 Arizona defendants charged in health care fraud scheme as part of nationwide DOJ crackdown