Operators of two Fort Defiance medical transportation companies have been sentenced to prison for health-care fraud after collecting more than $3 million from a government health program for thousands of trips that never occurred, federal prosecutors said.
Sylvia Begay, 50, who operated Hozho Nahasdlii Health Care at Home, was sentenced this week in U.S. District Court to two years and four months in federal prison. She will also be subject to three years of supervised release and must pay more than $2.1 million in restitution.
Virgil Begay, who operated Beauty Way Transport, also was sentenced to one year and nine months in federal prison, three years of supervised release and $1.3 million in restitution.
The Begays pleaded guilty to health-care fraud charges in connection with making false claims to and collecting payments from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program also known as AHCCCS.
AHCCCS, funded by both the state and federal governments, provides health-care insurance for low-income and disabled residents and pays for some trips to doctor and dentist appointments.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Sylvia Begay in 2010 began billing AHCCCS to provide medical transportation services for patients on the Navajo Reservation. Over two and a half years, she collected nearly $2.2 million from AHCCCS for thousands of trips that never occurred, court documents state.
Virgil Begay, who operated Beauty Way, collected nearly $1.4 million after submitting more than 16,000 claims for medical trips that never happened, according to court documents.