Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that Vanessa Marie Leininger has been sentenced on her conviction of five counts of Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree, four counts of Theft in the First Degree, one count of Aggravated Theft, and two counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance II. Leininger was convicted earlier this year after a four day jury trial. Despite having no prior criminal record, Leininger was sentenced to a total of 36 months prison and 36 months post-prison supervision. Additionally, Leininger was ordered to pay $22,760 restitution, to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and is prohibited from seeking or obtaining employment as a caregiver.
Leininger was employed by a Medicaid-funded home health care service in 2003. In May of 2003, Leininger was assigned by the agency to work for the victim. The victim, a very independent woman in her 80s, was looking for minor assistance in such things as light housekeeping, cooking and shopping.
During the course of Leininger's employment, the victim's physical health appeared to decline and Leininger reported to doctors and others an increase in victim's pain and corresponding decline in mental capacity. As a result, Leininger was successful in convincing the victim's doctor to prescribe additional medication for the victim. The decline was so dramatic that at one point the victim's primary care doctor recommended she receive 24-hour, seven days a week nursing care.
By October of 2003, the victim needed to be hospitalized twice and it was then the victim's family discovered that Leininger had been ordering excessive amounts of prescription medications for the victim, and that many of those medications were missing. As a result, Leininger was fired. Shortly thereafter, the victim and her family discovered that during Leininger's five months of employment approximately $25,000 of unauthorized ATM withdrawals had been made from the victim's bank accounts.
Subsequent investigation by the Portland Police Bureau and the Oregon Department of Justice Medicaid Fraud Unit determined the ATM withdrawals were made by Leininger. In the last month of employment, Leininger withdrew over $17,000 from the victim's accounts and during that same month, paid cash for a brand new car. During this same time period, hundreds of the victim's pain medications went missing.
Leininger testified at trial, contending that she cared for the victim and denying she ever took the victim's medication or made any unauthorized ATM withdrawals. Leininger testified she earned money to purchase her new car from a secondary, unreported, employment. The jury convicted Leininger of all counts charged.
The case was referred to the Oregon Department of Justice Medicaid Fraud Unit, which has authority to investigate and prosecute cases involving the activities of Medicaid-funded health care providers. The Senior Assistant Attorney General Rodney Hopkinson of the Medicaid Fraud Unit prosecuted the case through the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Rodney Hopkinson
Atty. in Charge Ellyn Sternfield, Medicaid Fraud Unit, (503) 229-5725