NC school counselor pleads guilty to health care fraud

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – A school counselor has admitted to committing health care fraud of over $400,000, according to a news release.

46-year-old Joseph Frank Korzelius pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud after he submitted false reimbursement claims that defrauded the North Carolina Medicaid Program of over $400,000.

According to court documents, Korzelius, who was a licensed professional counselor and Medicaid-approved provider of mental and behavioral health services, owned and operated Western Carolina Counseling Services in Tryon, NC between October of 2013 and November of 2016.

Korzelius was also employed as a guidance counselor at Tryon Elementary School in Polk County.

He identified students and their siblings from his work there and used those potential beneficiaries’ information to access these individuals’ personal information, the release says.

Korzelius then used their personal information to create and submit billings for individual psychotherapy services.

Those services were never provided to the individuals.

Court documents show that Korzelius controlled the bank accounts where the Medicaid-approved reimbursements were deposited.

During the course of his scheme, Korzelius submitted over $450,000 in false claims and received $436,229.08 in reimbursements for those fraudulent claims.

Korzelius was released on a bond following his plea hearing on Wednesday.

The health care fraud charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine.

A sentencing date has not yet been set for Korzelius.

“The defendant abused his position as an employee of the Polk County school system to access and misuse children’s identities to enrich himself, with funds stolen from a government-funded program. His actions are reprehensible and he will be punished for them,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.

“Using children’s personal information to defraud taxpayers is unconscionable,” said Attorney General Stein. “I will not tolerate Medicaid fraud, and my office will continue to work with the federal government to bring to justice anyone who is stealing from taxpayers.”

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