The owner of a now-defunct south Louisiana personal-care company has been ordered to spend 10 years in prison and pay nearly $7 million in restitution to the state in a Medicaid fraud scheme, a sentence that drew praise Tuesday from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
Dwaine Joseph Woods, 47, of Prairieville, and his wife, Dynetta Hadrick Woods, 44, were convicted last year of taking part in a conspiracy to forge cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid training certification documents for 19 Millennium Health Care Services LLC employees who never attended training, so they would be in compliance with requirements for personal-care attendants at the time.
Millennium also was found guilty of conspiracy to commit forgery, 19 counts of forgery and one count of theft by fraud.
Personal-care attendants help elderly and disabled Medicaid patients with daily activities such as bathing, grooming, dressing and eating.
Ad hoc Judge Bruce Bennett on Friday sentenced Dwaine Woods to 10 years in prison and ordered him and Millennium to pay $6,985,249 in restitution. Dynetta Woods was put on supervised probation for five years and ordered to pay $54,729 in restitution and $5,000 in fines.
Millennium also was fined $17,500 by the judge.
Landry, whose Medicaid Fraud Control Unit prosecuted the case, called the sentences a "win for justice" and for the state.
"Medicaid fraud is a crime that robs our state of precious resources and endangers services to those in need," he said in a prepared statement.
"This scheme was not just illegal, but it was also extremely dangerous. Instead of service workers learning necessary skills, they were fraudulently getting certifications without any training — greatly jeopardizing the health and safety of patients," Landry added.
Millennium, which operated from 2004 to 2010 and was funded solely by Medicaid dollars, had offices in Baton Rouge, Denham Springs and Lafayette.
The state health department terminated Millennium's service agreement in 2010 after Dwaine Woods' initial indictment by an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury on numerous counts of filing false public records. Those charges were dismissed in 2011, and another grand jury indicted him, his wife and Millennium in 2012.
An East Baton Rouge Parish jury found Dwaine Woods and Millennium guilty last year of felony theft by fraud.
After being cited by the state for deficiencies during an annual survey in 2006, Millennium was required to submit a plan to correct those problems. Trial evidence indicated Woods made false representations in the plan submitted to the state.
In an effort to ensure that the company would be able to continue billing claims to the Louisiana Medicaid program, Woods submitted false board of directors minutes, a forged and false evaluation of himself as Millennium's administrator, and a forged letter falsely stating that the company had secured a contract with a CPR instructor.
Millennium and Dynetta Woods each were convicted on one felony count of criminal conspiracy to commit forgery and 19 felony counts of forgery with her cousin, Jamaal Ellis Fletcher, 34, of Baton Rouge.
Evidence showed the company, Dynetta Woods and Fletcher engaged in a plot to create 19 false American Red Cross CPR cards for Millennium's direct service workers assigned as caretakers in the company's Denham Spring's office. Those employees never attended the mandatory training necessary to be in compliance with state requirements for personal-care attendants.
Fletcher pleaded guilty in 2013 to criminal conspiracy to commit forgery and was put on active supervised probation for a year. He also was ordered to reimburse the state $2,000 for the cost of his prosecution.