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Nurse gets probation for Medicaid fraud

An Onalaska nurse who said she filed fraudulent Medicaid claims to support her family was placed on probation and ordered to repay nearly $38,000 Thursday after admitting to insurance fraud.

An Onalaska nurse who said she filed fraudulent Medicaid claims to support her family was placed on probation and ordered to repay nearly $38,000 Thursday after admitting to insurance fraud.

Samantha Connaughty, an independent nurse contracted to provide in-home care to a young woman with spina bifida, pleaded guilty in La Crosse County Circuit Court to three misdemeanor counts alleging she filed more than 150 false claims totaling $37,890.32 in 2009 and 2010.

The false claims were found after the patient's mother reported discrepancies in the billing records. Connaughty told authorities she submitted the claims because she was too sick to work and needed money to support her family.

Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Gabrysiak said he typically treats such cases as felonies

but sought only misdemeanor charges because Connaughty, 42, cooperated with the investigation and was a single mother of four battling cancer.

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He asked for a sentence of two years probation and three months in jail to serve as a deterrent.

"There are a lot of nurses working in this program," Gabrysiak said. "The whole system relies on the honesty of individuals."

Judge Ramona Gonzalez called Medicaid fraud in any form is "a crime against all of us" but said this case was different because Connaughty stole to provide for her family, not out of greed or to support an addiction.

She sentenced Connaughty to the maximum term of probation -- two years -- and to six months on electronic monitoring. Connaughty will also have to enroll in financial planning classes and repay the money she took.

Connaughty apologized to the court and her family and said this was not something she would have done had she not been sick.

(c)2011 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)

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Related Topics: CRIMEHEALTH
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