Julio De La Cruz, 53, of Anchorage was sentenced on Thursday, November 17, to serve 10 months in federal prison for his part in a scheme to defraud the State of Alaska Medicaid Program out of approximately $64,000. In a separate case, Judge Burgess also sentenced De La Cruz to serve 10 months for defrauding the United States Social Security Administration out of approximately $37,000. De La Cruz was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release following his release from incarceration, and was ordered to pay restitution to the State of Alaska Medicaid Program and the U.S. Social Security Administration for the amounts of money which were misappropriated.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Bottini, De La Cruz participated in a scheme with a number of other individuals to falsify timesheets submitted to Medicaid for the payment of personal care assistant (PCA) services allegedly provided to enrolled Medicaid recipients. The Medicaid PCA program provides for the payment of certain services to those in financial need who are eligible to receive them – primarily the elderly or the permanently disabled. The PCA program covers services to assist with everyday living activities, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, transportation and shopping. The goal of the program is to allow the recipient to remain in their home rather than reside in an assisted living facility.
De La Cruz plead guilty earlier this year to conspiring with others to submit false timesheets for payment of PCA services when travel records showed that either the recipients or PCA providers were not in the United States. In the social security fraud case, De La Cruz similarly plead guilty earlier this year to participating in a scheme to have the U.S. Social Security Administration pay supplemental security income benefits to an individual who was not residing in the United States.
In imposing the prison sentences in each case, Judge Burgess noted that each of these social services programs are largely dependent on the honesty of those submitting claims for payment. Judge Burgess also noted that a sentence of incarceration for De La Cruz was important to send the message to the community that the abuse of such trust based systems will not be tolerated.
U.S. Attorney Loeffler commends the State of Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the United States Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the investigation of these cases.