12/20/11 — Owner sought in fraud arrests

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Owner sought in fraud arrests

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 20, 2011 1:46 PM

Law enforcement officials in North Carolina and Georgia are searching for Timothy Batts, the operator of a Wayne County group home, who is among those facing charges in connection with various schemes to defraud Medicaid.

Criminal charges levied against the suspects include obtaining property by false pretenses and Medicaid provider fraud. The charges allege more than half a million dollars in fraudulent payments.

Batts is charged with five counts of Medicaid provider fraud.

He allegedly billed the Medicaid program for more than $20,000 in unauthorized services at his group home and billed for services to Medicaid recipients that were not provided. However, that amount could be adjusted, investigators say.

Batts is thought to be in Georgia.

"We assume he lived in Wayne County at one point, but know that he left the state," said Noelle Talley, a spokesperson for the state Attorney General's office said Tuesday morning. "We are working with authorities in Georgia trying to track him down and arrest him."

Information provided by the state Attorney's General office did not include the name of the group home Batts operated.

However, Ms. Talley said that the home's name was One New Direction.

"Some of the allegations are that (the group home) really didn't exist," she said.

Suspects in 10 counties were arrested last Thursday at the start of a statewide sweep aimed at cracking down on people suspected of cheating the health program for the poor and disabled. Most of those arrested were home-health workers who were paid for time they didn't work.

The 18 suspects include mental health workers, group home operators, personal care aides and agency heads, a speech therapist and a registered nurse. Arrests have been made in Alleghany, Cumberland, Gaston, Guilford, Harnett, Hertford, Pitt, Robeson, Union and Wake counties.

More suspects are expected to be arrested soon, Attorney General Roy Cooper said.

"Ripping off Medicaid hurts needy patients, wastes taxpayer money, and drives up health care costs," Cooper said. "We're sending a strong signal to those who defraud Medicaid that we will find you and make you pay."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.