Clinical Social Worker's Fraudulent "Wave Therapy" Nets 30 Months In Prison; $169,620.69 Recovered
Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers and his Medicaid Fraud Unit today announced the conviction of Robert F. White, a licensed clinical social worker, on multiple felony counts including Aggravated Theft in the First Degree and Submitting False Claims for Health Care Payments. The case was prosecuted by the Department of Justice's Medicaid Fraud Unit. White, a former chairperson of the North Coast Senior Services and a former member of the Governor's Commission on Senior Services, pleaded guilty on June 24, 2005 and was sentenced today in Tillamook County Court to 30 months in prison. As a condition of the plea agreement, White appeared at sentencing today with the full restitution of $169,620.59 to various health care programs.
As a result of the plea, White is prohibited from practicing social work in the State of Oregon,; is prohibited from working in any capacity paid with federal health care dollars,; is prohibited from any future employment caring for the disabled and/or elderly population, and must permanently surrender his clinical social work license.
White billed federally funded health care programs for over 5,000 counseling sessions that he never actually provided. The investigation focused on 34 of White's patients, who lived in various long-term care facilities in Warrenton, Seaside, and Astoria, Oregon. Facility administrators reported their suspicion that White frequently billed for non-existent visits and visits that investigators dubbed "wave therapy"- sessions that consisted of nothing more than a friendly wave. The investigation, which included undercover surveillance of White when he was allegedly working and analysis of documents and computers obtained via a search warrant, revealed that White frequently billed anywhere between 10 to 21 sessions per day, including days when the patient was not even in the facility and days when White was out-of-town attending committee meetings.
"This defendant not only victimized government-funded health care programs but the very population he purported to be serving," Myers said. "The substantial sentence ordered hopefully should provide assurance to residents in Oregon's long term care facilities that Justice will aggressively prosecute unscrupulous health care providers."
This case was investigated by the Justice Medicaid Fraud Unit, with assistance from the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Tillamook County Sheriff's Office, and the Manzanita and Seaside Police Departments. The case was prosecuted by Medicaid Fraud Unit attorneys through the Tillamook County District Attorney's Office.
Kevin Neely, Justice, (503) 378-6002
Ellyn Sternfield, Attorney in Charge, Oregon DOJ Medicaid Fraud Unit, (503) 229-5725 x241
Sheen Wu, Assistant Attorney General, Oregon DOJ Medicaid Fraud Unit, (503) 229-5725 x276