Wednesday, March 14, 2018

FOIA: A Colossus Under Assault

Photos from the National Park Service show 2009, left, at President Obama's first inauguration on the Mall in Washington and 2017, right, the image of President Trump's inauguration. From the Washington Post

Just over a year ago, a Freedom of Information Act release by the National Park Service demonstrably proved that the President of the United States was lying about the size of his inauguration crowd.  That he was even elected president was, in part, because his opponent had improperly stored federal records on a personal server as Secretary of State and her agency was systematically and untruthfully stating that "no records" of the Secretary's emails could be located in response to FOIA requests.

A tiny sampling of the stories made possible by the Freedom of Information Act since then confirms that the law's impact continues to remain gargantuan.  We now know, thanks to FOIA: how the Drug Enforcement Administration was hamstrung from going after suspicious opiate shipments; how the Department of Justice uses parallel construction to construe illegal searches as legal; how Environmental Administrator Scott Pruitt was personally involved in scrubbing climate change data from his agency's website; how Afghanistan and Iraq wars proceeded day by day from the Secretary of Defense's desk; how investigations into suspicious deaths of Russians connected to Vladimir Putin on American soil are being conducted; how the Treasury Department justified its claim that recent tax cuts will generate $1.8 trillion in revenue (in just one page); how the rushed construction of a border wall would negatively impact one retirement community and three wildlife areas; and thousands more important local and national stories.

Far from being crippled and ineffective, as some have claimed, FOIA remains a colossus.  It continues to give citizens a fighting chance to force their government to release documents that it would rather hide.

In a metaphorical example of the state of FOIA, the EPA recently redacted a document using duct tape. Via Chris Horner

But we would be lying if we did not admit that the Freedom of Information Act has been chipped away at and weakened –often by the very people and agencies supposedly charged with enforcing it– for decades.  Some fixes to this will be relatively easy; others are needed, but will not likely be made in the foreseeable future.

Despite some incredibly transformative transparency initiates, the Obama administration was, for the most part, anti-FOIA.  It was more than happy to work to efficiently publish the government information that it wanted out, but generally was lukewarm at best in helping citizens get what they wanted released.

The Obama DOJ quietly worked to weaken the 2016 FOIA Improvement Act legislation.  Unlike President Clinton, and despite repeated requests from open government advocates, President Obama's DOJ refused to conduct a FOIA litigation review.  This means that despite his promises of openness, his DOJ lawyers continued the W. Bush practice of fighting the release of information via FOIA lawsuits as stridently as possible, and still submitted the same bad-faith, boilerplate arguments to judges on why the republic would be threatened if, say, a 31-year-old history of the Bay of Pigs invasion was released.  (Spoiler alert: after DOJ lawyers actually argued this and won, Congress changed the law to forbid it, the document was then released, and the republic did not collapse.)

The oldest pending FOIA request in the federal government is at the US National Archives. NARA state that it cannot process this request itself and is must wait for the originating agency to do so.

Today, the same structural problems of FOIA certainly still exist and new threats are emerging.  Delays are the primary bane of most FOIA requesters.  According to the most recent available data, the oldest FOIA request in the federal government is twenty-five years old and the average processing time request for a "complex request" (40 percent are deemed this) to the Department of Defense is 166 days.  It is certainly not uncommon for requests to take multiple years to complete.

Always appeal, especially "no document" responses.. Via DOJ.

Another continuing structural problem is agency's ongoing overuse of exemptions to withhold information.  Again according to the most recently available data, only 23.1 percent of all FOIA requests are granted in full to requesters.  36.8 percent are "released in part," but this is not a useful statistic as it could mean that one word is redacted or that one word (or sometimes less, actually) is released.  20.1 percent of all requests return "no document" responses, but as the State Department email fiasco showed, agency claims of having no records are often wrong.  Less than three percent of all FOIAs are appealed, but within that small sample, Associated Press statistics show that in nearly 33 percent of appeals, the agency improperly withheld information the first time around.  There is a staggering amount of information requested under FOIA that agencies should have released but didn't.

A "partial release" via FOIA Mapper.

As the law was written, there are nine FOIA exemptions.  In reality, there are closer to 250, including one about watermelon production data, because Exemption Three allows congress to pass new "statutory exemptions."  Of these 250 exemptions (and more and more continue to be introduced), some are used and abused more than others.  Statutory exemptions give the DIA, NSA, and other DOD components far more leeway to hide information than other agencies.  In 1984, Congress made its most error tremendous related to FOIA, passing the "CIA Information Act" which made it so that the CIA is no longer even required to search most of its records in response to FOIAs.  To get this gaping cutout, the CIA promised  congress that it would increase the rate of release of its records of historical interest, a promise that it has broken.

"Normal" exemptions one and seven, used to hide national security and law enforcement information, are often used to withhold information that is in the public interest to release.  Just this week, for example, the DOD announced that it would now be classifying previously public information about Missile Defense tests.  The upshot: we will now have a harder time knowing if the tests of our extremely expensive Missile Defense Program are successes or failures.

Wasting government time and funding to redact this? Yes, I agree with the marginalia.

But the exemption that is most urgently due for a rewrite is the Exemption Five, the "withhold it because you want to" exemption.  The 2016 FOIA amendments made it slightly harder for agencies to use Exemption Five; they now have to show how release of this information could be reasonably expected to cause harm to agency processes, and cannot use it to withhold documents that are older than twenty-five years (how the National Security Archive finally got the Bay of Pigs history released).  But because of the exemption's broad wording (even the DOJ concedes it has "opaque language"), any inter or intra agency communication can be withheld under it.  Most recently, agencies' have been citing Exemption Five to withhold their Agency Reform Plans from the public.   In a bittersweet development, the House unanimously passed language that would curtail abuse of this exemption in its version of the 2016 FOIA bill, but due to parliamentary maneuverings, it was left out of the Senate bill that eventually became law.  Any legislator wanting to make her mark in the world of transparency should be attempting to attach these few lines of legislation which have already passed the House unanimously onto every bill.

Time for an update. The OMB Guidance on FOIA fees was written before the internet existed and is missing a key word.

Other doable, realistic reforms that could improve FOIA include finally acting on a recommendation made two years ago by the Federal FOIA Advisory committee (I am a member) and Archivist of the United States to update OMB's FOIA Fee guidance, which was written before the advent of email (and reads like it!  It is even missing one key word).  Updated guidance would ameliorate the key problems of the use of "fee bullying" by agencies to deter requesters and would lock in the legislative reforms that prohibit agencies from charging most fees if they miss their deadlines.

Hopefully government agencies will move more quickly to implement the new slate of recommendations passed by the Advisory Committee.  This action is urgently needed.  Recently the National Park Service removed its entire collection of National Parks Climate Actions Plans, by speciously claiming that it was not compliant with the Rehabilitation Act, which requires that documents are accessible to those with disabilities.  But as the next FOIA Advisory Committee recommendations clearly state, Interior could have and should have left these valuable public releases online.

The recommendations also include instructions on how agencies should be proactively posting documents online and how to conduct more efficient searches—the key reason behind the years and decades-long processing delays.

Finally, it is important that we recognize the largest structural problem of the Freedom of Information Act that is not likely to be fixed in the foreseeable future: the fact that no one is holding agencies accountable for not following the law.

99 percent of federal agencies missed the memo, apparently.

Here is a staggering example: in 2008 the President of the United States instructed every federal agency to reduce its FOIA backlog by ten percent every year.  How many agencies followed this presidential order?  Just a single one: the Department of Health and Human Services.  If agencies had followed this presidential instruction, most if not all of FOIA backlogs would be eliminated and requesters could get their documents in a timely fashion.  But as ninety-nine percent of agencies disobeyed a presidential instruction, no one from the White House, Congress, the DOJ Office of Information Policy, or the FOIA Ombuds Office chastised or prodded agencies, or analyzed why the president's instruction was not followed.

FOIA offices are quick to blame their worsening production on lack of resources, and this is certainly true… to an extent.  It is also due to antiquated workflow processes, insufficient use of technology, the continued purchase of agency software that is not compatible with FOIA searches and production needs, an unwillingness to release information for the sake of efficiency, and –perhaps most fundamentally– a lack of respect for the Freedom of Information Act by agency heads and other agency employees.

Take for example the recent case of the Department of State.  Secretary Rex Tillerson has begun an all hands on deck effort to reduce the State Department's abysmal FOIA backlog (Former H.W. Secretary James Baker also did this… but the backlog re-grew in the interim because State did not establish efficient workflow and staffing practices).  We are watching the results of this "FOIA Surge" closely, but are cautiously optimistic that State is doing the right thing and is now releasing more information to more people more quickly.  State Department employees, however, were not so supportive of this effort to comply with the law.  Some went on record calling the FOIA office "Siberia," and described their new FOIA work as beneath them, even though current DOJ instructions clearly state "FOIA is everyone's responsibility."

In the face of this and other public bashing of FOIA officers, the FOIA Ombuds Office and DOJ OIP have remained largely silent.  The underlying reason for this, I believe, is an aversion for employees of one executive branch agency to criticize another agency.  This is why there is no "FOIA beat cop" defending FOIA processors, condemning bad FOIA denials, lobbying for increased FOIA funding, or demanding plans to reduce FOIA delays and backlogs.  For FOIA to reach its potential there does need to be an effective FOIA enforcer, notwithstanding concerns over protecting bureaucratic turf.

Certainly, the courts are a mechanism to do this for individual cases. In the absence of DOJ OIP or OGIS's ability to force agencies to improve, FOIA litigation is skyrocketing.  The downside of this is that the courts are beginning to clog up and that only relatively wealthy individuals and organizations can afford to turn to judges for justice for their FOIA requests.  The upside is that judges are becoming more active in releasing information and more and more are questioning dubious DOJ lawyer claims of the threat of openness.  People are suing because it works; more information is coming out more quickly thanks to the courts.  More pattern and practice rulings by judges (similar to the recent one won by MuckRock forcing the CIA to begin searching its emails in responses to requests) will continue to improve FOIA production.

But the courts cannot be relied upon to fix how FOIA is administered.  Ultimately –and this will be a heavy lift that will not likely occur soon– the FOIA oversight mechanism of the executive branch needs to be shaken up, made stronger, and more activist.  One possible solution is a model similar to the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.  Why, after all, are Inspectors General usually feared and FOIA officers usually ignored or scoffed at?  Because, I believe, IGs have an oversight entity with clout backing them up so that they can receive the documents they require, meet their deadlines, and independently follow their charge as described by the law.

LBJ's edits to his signing statement authored by Bill Moyers.

The United States Freedom of Information Act was the first modern access to information law.  Since it was signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson on July 4, 1966, over one hundred countries have passed access to information laws of their own; some countries have far surpassed the US in providing access to information to their citizens.  The importance of the law should not be understated.  It is a colossus that makes national and local headlines daily, it proves that presidents lie, it tells citizens what their military and intelligence agencies are doing in their name.  But it is exactly because of FOIA's success and potential that those who prefer secrecy attempt to weaken it both by overt attacks and by active neglect.  Despite this, I am optimistic about FOIA's future.  It is a uniquely American law that provides us the power to force our government to disclose our secrets.  It will survive, but will it thrive?

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SECNAV Names Newest Destroyer in Honor of U.S. Marine

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer named the next Arleigh Burke—class guided—missile destroyer in honor of Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and Navy Cross recipient Lance Cpl. Patrick Gallagher.

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Submarines USS Hartford, USS Connecticut Surface Together in the Arctic Circle

BEAUFORT SEA, Arctic Circle (NNS) -- Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) and Seawolf-class fast attack submarine, USS Connecticut (SSN 22) both surfaced in the Arctic Circle March 10 during the multinational maritime Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018 in the Arctic Circle north of Alaska. Both fast-attack submarines as well the UK Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant (S91), are participating in the biennial exercise in the Arctic to train and validate the warfighting capabilities of submarines in extreme cold-water conditions. "From a military, geographic, and scientific perspective, the Arctic Ocean is truly unique, and remains one of the most challenging ocean environments on earth," said Rear Admiral James Pitts, commander, Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC). ICEX provides the U.S. Submarine Force and partners from the Royal Navy an opportunity to test combat and weapons systems, sonar systems, communications and navigation systems in a challenging operational environment. The unique acoustic undersea environment is further compounded by the presence of a contoured, reflective ice canopy when submerged. According to Pitts, operating in the Arctic ice alters methods and practices by which submarines operate, communicate and navigate. "We must constantly train together with our submarine units and partners to remain proficient in this hemisphere," Pitts said. "Having both submarines on the surface is clear demonstration of our proficiency in the Arctic." In recent years, the Arctic has been used as a transit route for submarines. The most recent ICEX was conducted in 2016 with USS Hampton (SSN 767) and USS Hartford (SSN 768). The first Arctic under-ice operations by submarines were done in 1947-49. On August 1, 1947, the diesel submarine USS Boarfish (SS-327), with Arctic Submarine Laboratory's founder Dr. Waldo Lyon onboard serving as an Ice Pilot, conducted the first under-ice transit of an ice floe in the Chukchi Sea. In 1958, the nuclear-powered USS NAUTILUS made the first crossing of the Arctic Ocean beneath the pack ice. The first Arctic surfacing was done by USS Skate (SSN 578) in March 1959. USS Sargo was the first submarine to conduct a winter Bering Strait transit in 1960. The units participating in the exercise are supported by a temporary ice camp on a moving ice floe approximately 150 miles off the coast of the northern slope of Alaska in international waters. The ice camp, administered by the Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL), is a remote Arctic drifting ice station, built on multi-year sea-ice especially for ICEX that is logistically supported with contract aircraft from Deadhorse, Alaska. The ice camp will be de-established once the exercise is over. ASL is an operational fleet support detachment of the Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC). ASL is also the Navy Program Manager for the Submarine Arctic Warfare Program.

For more information about ICEX 2018, visit

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Historic Images of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery

I recently received a wealth of wonderful information and imagery from the staff of the American Battle Monuments Commission.  I'll be sharing it with our readers throughout the Centennial.  These images tell a story by themselves.  I've just included some text and captions as needed.

From the ABMC Website:
Within the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, which covers 130.5 acres, rest the largest number of our military dead in Europe, a total of 14,246. It is located just east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Meuse, France, approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers) northwest of Verdun.  Most of those buried here lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I. The immense array of headstones rises in long regular rows upward beyond a wide central pool to the chapel that crowns the ridge. A beautiful bronze screen separates the chapel foyer from the interior, which is decorated with stained-glass windows portraying American unit insignia; behind the altar are flags of the principal Allied nations. The cemetery required almost two decades to complete.  It was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1937.
Remains of the Fallen Were Gathered from Field Cemeteries
En Route to Romagne
A Ceremony Was Conducted When the Original Coffins Arrived for Internment
General Pershing Inspects the Cemetery in the 1920s
The Completed Temporary Cemetery Which Held 23,000 Burials
An Exhumation From a Temporary GraveFamilies Could Choose to Have the Fallen Return Home for Burial

The Temporary Burials Were Also Exhumed for Preparation for Final Burial 

The Final Design with Over 14,000 Burials Took Almost 20 Years to Evolve
Some of the Final Markers with Photos of the Interned Super-Imposed
General Pershing at the Formal Dedication, Memorial Day, 1937
World War II GIs Visiting the Cemetery
Today the Cemetery Is the Site of Frequent Remembrances
Display at the New Visitors Center

From the ABMC Website:

A renovated, 1,600-square-foot center visitor center reopened in November 2016. Through interpretive exhibits that incorporate personal stories, photographs, films, and interactive displays, visitors will gain a better understanding of the critical importance of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive as it fits into the Great War.

Watch the Video  Never to be Forgotten: Soldiers of the Meuse-Argonne and
Listen to General Pershing Here

Images selected from:  American Battle Monuments Commission Archives, Library of Congress, and the Film Never to be Forgotten: Soldiers of the Meuse-Argonne.

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1914: Fight the Good Fight. . . Reviewed by Bruce Sloan

1914: Fight the Good Fight, Britain, the Army & 
the Coming of the First World War

The BEF on the Way to France, August 1914
Allan Mallinson spent 35 years in the British Army and is the author of Light Dragoons–a history of four regiments of British Cavalry (one of which he commanded), numerous historical novels, as well as the acclaimed The Making of the British Army. He has written on defense matters for the Times, and has regularly reviewed for the Times and the Spectator. He was a year at the Staff College and was posted to the Directorate of Military Operations, in the branch concerned with war in Europe.

With the author's access to prominent military figures and the War Office papers in the National Archives, this history is researched with exactitude. In my opinion, 1914 stands up very favorably with, and supplements, The Guns of August, with regard to the reasons, the treaties and the bumbling beginnings of the war.

Mallinson takes us through the preparations and mobilization of the BEF and General Sir John French's leadership through the retreat from Mons (which General Haig's I Corps doesn't manage to get to) to the battle at Le Cateau, the Race to the Sea, and to the Marne, where probably the last lance-to-lance cavalry battle was fought on 7 September at Le Montcel. He relates incidents and decisions leading to and within World War I from Waterloo, the Zulu War and the disaster at Isandlwana (which General Smith-Dorian survived—he thinks because he had a blue jacket), the Boer War, and the Russo-Japanese War. It was pleasing to find that the author, an infantryman and cavalryman, spends a fair amount of time on the decisions regarding the British Navy and the fledgling Royal Flying Corps and the usefulness of both. The friction between commanders, both British and French, is explored, with the resulting actions and repercussions. He pulls no punches when analyzing their decisions and motivations, and he addresses other analyses when he has subsequent or contrary evidence. (He is not overly friendly to Sir John French.) All in all, an extremely good and enlightening read.

Bruce Sloan

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Impressions of the YMCA at War

A Soldier Enjoying Music at  a YMCA Canteen
By Mark Hauser
From the Hoover Institution Website

In France, YMCA huts provided soldiers with record players and movie theaters; again, soldiers' responses were more complicated than those anticipated by Y officials. John Wister, a horticulturist from Philadelphia, wrote home to his family that at the Y "they never show anything but the oldest, cheapest and worst. I have seen good American pictures in Bordeaux by going to the French theatres at about 4 francs, but never anything good in the Y yet, but of course tastes differ and some like them."

YMCA Sponsored Baseball League

Although Army and welfare officials struggled to organize entertainment, YMCA workers were more effective at organizing sports leagues; sports had been an important part of the Y's services in the United States where officials encouraged men to participate in sports as a form of "muscular Christianity". Birge Clark, a Palo Alto native and former Stanford student who served as the captain of a balloon company during the war, wrote in his diary of the popularity of the Y baseball league, which three times a week attracted ten percent of his company to a nearby French town. Baseball was so popular in Clark's unit that even though the Y had spent millions of dollars on sporting goods it was unable to supply his soldiers with enough equipment; Clark's company eventually built their own machine to sand lumber into bats. However, over time athletic programs transformed from mass participation into mass spectatorship, a change welcomed by many soldiers. Independence Day celebrations in 1918 featured huge baseball games designed to showcase the best soldier talent, yet also turned the non-participants into a crowd that watched the games with enthusiasm. Roy Davis, an ambulance driver from Los Gatos, CA, recorded in his diary the experience of attending his first football game alongside thousands of other soldiers, writing "I am willing to frankly admit that I did not know the first thing about football. However, after the 'kickoff' at 2:30, the points of the game soon became apparent to me and when things became especially exciting I found myself yelling and waving my arms with as much gusto as some of the one-time-stars of the game." Winning new fans like Davis was important for football but even more important for a controversial sport like boxing; boxing's popularity soared after the war in large part because of soldiers' spectatorship at YMCA and Knights of Columbus-sponsored bouts, and veterans successfully lobbied to legalize the sport in states such as New York where it had previously been banned.

A YMCA Tour of Paris for the Troops
YMCA officials operated "canteens" where soldiers could buy a wide range of goods, including cigarettes, canned fruits, toiletries, chocolate, and even wristwatches. Edwin Gerth, a Knox College student who enlisted in the Army, wrote in letters to his family and his diary of his appreciation for the YMCA, and wished their canteens could be in the trenches where he could have chocolate when he needed it most. Other soldiers like Jacob Emery, a lieutenant and student at Harvard, wrote to his family criticizing the canteens for their limited selection, high prices, and inconvenient hours. The reactions of soldiers like Gerth and Emery highlighted what soldiers perceived as the unfulfilled potential of canteens to provide inexpensive, convenient comforts during times of intense physical and mental strain.

Photos from the Hoover Institution Collection

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State Enforcement Action’s - Medicare Tricare

March 9, 2018; Kentucky Attorney General
Beshear: Louisa Couple Sentenced on Multiple Felony Counts of Medicaid Fraud
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 9, 2018) - Attorney General Andy Beshear and his Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse today announced a Lawrence County couple has been sentenced on multiple felony counts of Medicaid fraud.
March 7, 2018; New York Attorney General
A.G. Schneiderman Announces $750,000 Joint Settlement With Long Island Pediatrics Practice Resolving Allegations Company Submitted False Claims To Medicaid
HOLBROOK, NY-Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a joint state-federal settlement with the Long Island, NY-based pediatrics practice Freed, Kleinberg, Nussbaum, Festa & Kronberg M.D., LLP (Practice), as well as various current and former partner physicians of the Practice, including Arnold W. Scherz, M.D., Mitchell Kleinberg, M.D., Michael Nussbaum, M.D., Robert Festa, M.D., and Jason Kronberg, D.O. (Partners)-doing business as Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. The agreement settles allegations that the Practice and Partners did not routinely enroll all of their employee providers treating Medicaid patients in the Medicaid program, and instead used the Partners' Medicaid provider identification numbers to bill for the treatment of Medicaid beneficiaries by unenrolled employee providers. An investigation conducted by the Attorney General's office found that the false claims occurred at many of the practice's Long Island locations. The pediatrics practice has locations in Holbrook, Port Jefferson, Shirley, and Wading River, NY. New York's Medicaid program will receive $450,000 as part of the $750,000 settlement agreement. 
March 6, 2018; Nevada Attorney General
Attorney General Laxalt Announces Conviction of Medicaid Provider Business
Las Vegas, NV - Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that Because We Care, LLC (hereinafter BWC), based out of Las Vegas, was convicted today for Medicaid fraud.
March 1, 2018; Arkansas Attorney General
Rutledge Announces Arrest of Northwest Arkansas Woman for Medicaid Fraud
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of a Springdale woman.

February 2018

February 27, 2018; Nevada Attorney General
Attorney General Laxalt Announces Sentencing of Medicaid Provider
Las Vegas, NV - Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that John Harris, 34, of Las Vegas, was sentenced today in a Medicaid fraud case involving the failure to maintain proper documentation for services provided to Medicaid recipients.
February 20, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Tipton Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Tipton County woman is charged in nearby Shelby County with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits as payment for the pills.
February 20, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Blount Co. Woman to Repay TennCare
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Blount County woman has been ordered to repay the state after facing charges of fraudulently obtaining TennCare healthcare insurance benefits.
February 16, 2018; New York Attorney General
A.G. Schneiderman Announces Trial Conviction Of Long Island Man For Stealing From Bronx Medicaid-Funded Charity
BRONX - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that a Bronx County jury found John Cornachio, 63, of Oyster Bay, NY, guilty of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, for holding "no-show" job in order to steal from Narco Freedom Inc., a former Bronx-based, Medicaid-funded, not-for-profit corporation that was founded to provide substance abuse services throughout New York City. Cornachio faces up to 15 years in state prison when he is sentenced on March 2, 2018. Cornachio was remanded to jail pending sentencing.
February 18, 2018; Louisiana Attorney General
Three Arrested for Medicaid Welfare Fraud
BATON ROUGE, LA - Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry today announced the arrests of three people on multiple counts of Medicaid Fraud, and he encouraged the public to report welfare fraud to his office.
February 15, 2018; New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety
Pennsylvania Woman Charged with Stealing Nearly $78,000 from Elderly Relative with Dementia Living in Long-Term Care Facility
TRENTON - Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor today announced that a Pennsylvania woman has been charged with stealing nearly $78,000 from an elderly relative who suffers from dementia and resides in a long-term care facility in Warren County, New Jersey.
February 12, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Hamblen Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Hamblen County woman is charged with TennCare fraud for falsely reporting that she resided in Tennessee in order to obtain benefits from the taxpayer-funded program.
February 12, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Sumner County Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Sumner County woman is charged in both Sumner and Davidson Counties with TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping, or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain prescriptions for controlled substances.
February 8, 2018; Massachusetts Attorney General
Mental Health Center to Pay $4 Million under AG Settlement for Illegally Billing MassHealth for Unlicensed Patient Care
Boston - Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that South Bay Mental Health Center, Inc. (SBMHC) has agreed to pay $4 million based on allegations that it fraudulently billed the stateĆ¢€™s Medicaid Program, known as MassHealth, for mental health care services provided to patients by unlicensed, unqualified, and unsupervised staff members at clinics across the state.
February 8, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
McMinn County Woman Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A McMinn County woman is charged in nearby Bradley County with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits as payment.
February 8, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Shelby Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Shelby County woman is charged with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits as payment.
February 7, 2018; Florida Attorney General
Florida State Hospital Employee Arrested for Abusing a Disabled Person
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Attorney General Pam Bondi's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Baker County Sheriff's Office today arrested a former Northeast Florida State Hospital employee for abusing a disabled adult. Antrisa Fontae Butler, 27, a human services worker allegedly struck a schizophrenic resident multiple times in the head and neck.
February 6, 2018; New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety
Certified Nurse Aide, Three Others Charged with Stealing More than $80,000 from Two Elderly, Disabled Individuals
TRENTON - Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) today announced that four individuals have been charged with financially exploiting elderly, disabled individuals - including a Certified Nurse Aide accused of cashing more than $30,000 in forged checks taken from a patient he was caring for at a Jersey City rehabilitation center. 
February 6, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Maury Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Maury County woman is charged with TennCare fraud in Williamson and Coffee Counties, and it's her second round of charges in Williamson County.
February 5, 2018; Louisiana Attorney General
Two Louisiana Women Arrested for Medicaid Fraud
BATON ROUGE, LA - Attorney General Jeff Landry today announced that two women have been arrested by his award-winning Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
February 2, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Maury Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Maury County woman is charged in nearby Williamson County with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits as payment for the pills.
February 1, 2017; Florida Attorney General
Pensacola Resident Arrested for Exploiting the Elderly to Fund Vacations
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-Attorney General Pam Bondi's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Escambia County Sheriff's Office today arrested a Pensacola man for exploiting an elderly victim and using funds for vacations to Baton Rouge, La. and Las Vegas, Nev. Steven McAroy, 44, acted in a position of trust for the victim and signed all financial documents while the victim resided in a long-term care facility.

January 2018

January 31, 2018; Pennsylvania Attorney General
Bucks County Dentist Charged with $1.5 Million in Fraudulent Bills to Pennsylvania Medicaid Program
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced felony charges against a Bucks County dentist after he and his company submitted $1.5 million in fraudulent claims to the Medical Assistance Program for dental work that was never performed.
January 25, 2018; New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety
Owner of Hudson County Medical Equipment Supply Store Sentenced to Prison for Stealing $100,000 through Medicaid Fraud Scam
TRENTON -Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced that the owner of a Hudson County medical equipment supply store was sentenced today to prison for fraudulently billing the Medicaid program more than $100,000 for medical supplies never provided to patients.
January 23, 2018; Florida Attorney General
Pensacola Resident Convicted of Exploitation of the Elderly
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-Attorney General Pam Bondi today announced the conviction of a Pensacola man for exploiting and fraudulently using the personal identification information of a legally blind elderly victim. After deliberating for nine hours, the jury found John Louis Wages, 45, guilty as charged on both counts.
January 17, 2018; North Carolina Attorney General
Attorney General Josh Stein Announces Settlement with Raleigh Dentist over Medicaid Claims
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced a settlement with Javeria Nasir, a dentist in Raleigh. Dr. Nasir allegedly submitted fraudulent claims to the North Carolina Medicaid program. Allegedly, Dr. Nasir submitted claims between Jan. 1, 2015 and July 31, 2017, for "extended care facility calls" and "full mouth debridements" that were not medically necessary, had no supporting clinical documentation, and were performed in violation of Medicaid policy.
January 16, 2018; South Carolina Attorney General
Carr: All-In Effort Leads to Dismantling of Systematic Elder Abuse Scheme
ATLANTA, GA - Attorney General Chris Carr, in conjunction with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia (PACGA), the Dougherty County District Attorney (DA), and various local law enforcement and first responding entities in the cities of Albany, Forsyth, Macon and Suwanee, today announced that their collaborative efforts led to the dismantling of a systematic elder abuse scheme coordinated by three individuals.
January 16, 2018; New York Attorney General
A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment And Arrests Of Medical Testing Company Owners In Multi-Million Dollar Medicaid Fraud
BROOKLYN - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment and arrest of Tea Kaganovich, 45, and Ramazi Mitiashvili, 57, both of Brooklyn, NY for Grand Larceny in the First Degree and other related charges for illegally billing Medicaid for fraudulent diagnostic testing services and laundering the criminal proceeds from their scheme. The Attorney General also filed a civil lawsuit seeking $24 million in damages from the defendants under the State's False Claims Act and other laws. The indictment alleges that Kaganovich and Mitiashvili, operators of Sophisticated Imaging, Inc., East Coast Diagnostics, Inc., and East West Management, Inc., engaged in a systematic scheme to subject Medicaid patients to a battery of diagnostic tests that were not medically necessary and not ordered by real physicians.
January 12, 2018; New York Attorney General
A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement With Whitney M. Young Health Center For Improperly Billing Medicaid For Substandard Substance Abuse Services
ALBANY - New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a $1.25 million settlement with the Whitney M. Young Health Center for improper billing by its Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program, which failed to properly document patient treatment plans necessary for the patients' care.
January 12, 2018; Florida Attorney General
Dentist and Office Manager Arrested for More Than $50,000 in Medicaid Fraud
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-Attorney General Pam Bondi's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Pembroke Pines Police Department today arrested a dentist and office manager for defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $50,000. According to the MFCU investigation, Maritza Lazcano, owner of Lazcano Family Dental, and Luis Garcia Fragoso, the office manager, fraudulently billed the Medicaid program for numerous dental procedures never performed. These procedures included cleanings, crowns, root canals, x-rays, etc.
January 11, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Knox Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Knox County woman is charged with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits as payment for the pills. Doctor shopping involves visiting multiple doctors in a 30-day period in order to obtain prescriptions for drugs, usually narcotics and other controlled substances.
January 10, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Hawkins Co. Man Charged 3rd Time with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Hawkins County man is charged for the third time with doctor shopping for controlled substances, using TennCare as payment. All the cases involve efforts to obtain prescriptions for opioids.
January 11, 2018; U.S. Department of Justice
Michigan Clinic Office Manager Pleads Guilty to $131 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme Involving Unnecessary Prescription of Controlled Substances
A Michigan clinic office manager pleaded guilty today for his role in a health care fraud scheme that involved the unnecessary prescription of controlled substances and that resulted in a $131 million loss to Medicare.
January 11, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Knox Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Knox County woman is charged with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits as payment for the pills. Doctor shopping involves visiting multiple doctors in a 30-day period in order to obtain prescriptions for drugs, usually narcotics and other controlled substances.
January 10, 2018; Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
Hawkins Co. Man Charged 3rd Time with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Hawkins County man is charged for the third time with doctor shopping for controlled substances, using TennCare as payment. All the cases involve efforts to obtain prescriptions for opioids.
January 9, 2018; Massachusetts Attorney General
AG Healey Sues Mental Health Center for Illegally Billing MassHealth for Unlicensed and Unsupervised Patient Care
Boston - Attorney General Maura Healey has sued South Bay Mental Health Center, Inc. (SBMHC) for fraudulently billing the state's Medicaid Program, known as MassHealth, for mental health care services provided to patients by unlicensed, unqualified, and unsupervised staff members at clinics across the state.
January 4, 2018; Florida Attorney General
Fort Lauderdale Dentist Arrested for Violation of Probation
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-Attorney General Pam Bondi's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Broward County Sheriff's Office arrested a Fort Lauderdale dentist for violation of probation. Dr. Marino Vigna is currently serving probation following an MFCU investigation and arrest in 2016 for allegedly billing Medicaid for services not rendered. Dr. Vigna pleaded Nolo Contendere to a charge of grand theft, a third-degree felony.
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