WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - Jacqueline Wheeler, 54, the chief executive officer and owner of two health care companies, was convicted Friday by a federal jury in the District of Columbia of one count of health care fraud and 34 counts of false statements for submitting more than $7 million in fraudulent claims to the D.C. Medicaid program, according to U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.
Wheeler, of Chevy Chase, Md., faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the health care fraud conviction and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the false statements convictions. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5. She was ordered jailed pending sentencing.
According to official documents, Wheeler was the chief executive officer of the Health Advocacy Center, Inc., and the owner of Sheridan Rehabilitative and Wellness Centers, Inc., a private company located at the same Sheridan Street NW address.
Beginning in January 2006 and continuing through April 2008, Wheeler, through the Health Advocacy Center, submitted false claims for services that were not provided. She collected at least $2.6 million before the activities were detected. Evidence showed that she used the proceeds of her fraud to support the purchase of four luxury vehicles, two beachfront properties in Florida, and her home.
The Health Advocacy Center was purportedly engaged in serving as an advocate for improved health care delivery to the community. It also provided management support, as well as financial advice and assistance to other health care providers. It was a registered District of Columbia Medicaid provider.
Sheridan Rehabilitative and Wellness Centers was purportedly engaged in providing rehabilitative services to the mentally and physically disabled community. It also purportedly provided housing to mentally and physically challenged individuals. The company was not an authorized D.C. Medicaid provider.
Wheeler was a registered naturopath with the District of Columbia Department of Health, Health Professional Licensing Administration. However, she was not a licensed medical doctor.
Because Sheridan Rehabilitative and Wellness Centers was not authorized as a D.C. Medicaid provider, it was unable to submit bills to D.C. Medicaid. From January 2006 through April 2008, Wheeler prepared and submitted all of the billing for the Health Advocacy Center, and handled all financial matters for both the Health Advocacy Center and Sheridan.
Wheeler submitted over 600 claims to D.C. Medicaid for manual therapy services that the Health Advocacy Center purportedly provided to approximately 22 District of Columbia Medicaid beneficiaries. In these claims, she maintained that the Health Advocacy Center provided in excess of 20 continuous hours of manual therapy for each patient in a single 24-hour period, and sought over $6.5 million from D.C. Medicaid for manual therapy services.
Wheeler routinely billed D.C. Medicaid from 1,440 continuous minutes of manual therapy for a single patient in a 24-hour period to as many as 2,910 continuous minutes (or 48.5 hours) of manual therapy for a single patient in a 24-hour period.
D.C. Medicaid paid the Health Advocacy Center in excess of $2.5 million for manual therapy services that were not provided to the patients. The payments were deposited in bank accounts controlled by Wheeler.