ZANESVILLE, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced on Monday that Autumn Health Care of Zanesville has been ordered to repay $167,000 that it fraudulently obtained from state and federal Medicaid programs.
DeWine says that the corporation and its owner, 61-year-old Steven Hitchens of Newark, both pleaded guilty to multiple charges in October following an investigation by agents with Attorney General DeWine’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The charges were filed in 2014 after the investigation found that Autumn Health Care’s owner and employees habitually altered official documents to falsely make it appear that it was regularly providing adequate care for its residents. Although the records reflected a high level of care, the investigation found that several patients missed treatments and were given therapy that they didn’t need in order for the company to make more money.
In addition to Hitchens, 10 managers and employees were convicted in connection with the case. Krysta Berkfield, Heidi Harper, Danielle Greene, Andrew Hooks, Heidi Gard, Christina Tedrick were convicted fraud (F5); Annette Sichina was found guilty of tampering with records (M1); James Shriner and Clare Armstrong were convicted of forgery (F5); and Michael Klingensmith was found guilty of Medicaid fraud (F5).
The employees were all sentenced to community control and are under a period of federal exclusion from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Because of their convictions, the Ohio State Board of Nursing permanently revoked the nursing licenses of all of the nurses convicted of felonies.
The investigation by the Attorney General’s Office began in 2012 after family members of a resident expressed concerns about the resident’s care. The inquirty that followed prompted the Ohio Department of Health to revoke Autumn Healthcare’s license in 2013.
The facility and nine other Autumn Health Care locations throughout Ohio were ultimately sold to Greystone Healthcare Management and are no longer affiliated with Hitchens or Autumn Health Care.