AG: Chelmsford couple exploited homeless people to collect $500K in fake Medicaid claims

WOBURN, MASS. (WHDH) - A Chelmsford couple has been arrested for allegedly letting homeless people live in their house rent-free on the condition that they sign up to be MassHealth members so the couple could bill the state’s Medicaid program for false home care services.

John Wachira, 52, and Joanne Wachira, 60, were indicted Dec. 9 by a Statewide Grand Jury and arrested on Thursday on three counts of Medicaid false claims, two counts of larceny over $1,200, and a charge of Medicaid kickbacks, according to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office.

Their in-home health services company, Petra Health Care, LLC, was also indicted.

The Wachiras will be arraigned Thursday in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn.

Healey’s Office alleges that between July 2015 and December 2017, the Wachiras recruited at least 10 homeless people to live in their house rent-free, but required them, as a condition of their housing, to be MassHealth members and sign up to receive Petra’s purported home health care services.

Those staying in the house were then allegedly required to sign false timesheets indicating that services like bathing, assistance getting dressed, and medication reminders, were being provided or risk being removed from the house.

“We allege that these defendants took advantage of homeless individuals in order to steal from the state’s healthcare system,” Healey said in a statement. “Fighting home health care fraud is a priority for our Medicaid Fraud Division.”

Through the scheme, the Wachiras allegedly collected $543,542.19 from MassHealth.

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