Married Couple and Their Home Health Care Company Charged With Submitting False Medicaid Claims

by Andrew Murray | January 16th, 2020

On December 19, 2019, the Attorney General of Massachusetts announced the arrest of the couple on charges related to “a large and complex scheme to falsely bill the state’s Medicaid program (MassHealth) that involved exploiting homeless individuals[.]” The Press Release states:

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John Wachira, age 52, and Joanne Wachira, age 60, both of Chelmsford, were indicted on December 9 by a Statewide Grand Jury. They were arrested today in Lowell by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office. Their company, Petra Health Care, LLC, was also indicted on Monday. All three defendants were charged with Medicaid False Claims (3 counts each), Larceny Over $1,200 (2 counts each), and Medicaid Kickbacks (1 count each). They will be arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn later today. 

The Wachiras operate Petra Health Care, a home health care company that provides in-home health services to patients. The AG’s Office alleges that from July 2015 through December 2017, the Wachiras recruited at least 10 homeless individuals 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 (even though they were not), or were at risk of being removed from the house.

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The AG’s Office alleges that the Wachiras and their company did not actually provide many of those services, despite billing MassHealth for them. In total, the AG’s Office alleges that the defendants fraudulently obtained $543,542.19 from MassHealth as a result of the scheme.

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