Attorney General Janet T. Mills Announces Results of Fraud Investigations

November 9, 2010

Contact: Kate Simmons, 626-8577

Attorney General Mills Announces Results of Fraud Investigations

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills announced the hiring of a new fraud prosecutor to pursue additional cases of abuse of Maine's safety net programs.

Assistant Attorney General Peter Black has been on the job for a month but has already brought several indictments for the misuse of various state administered programs. Mr. Black will focus on theft and fraud by recipients of state programs.

Grand Juries in three counties returned indictments over the past two weeks regarding fraud by state program recipients.

In Cumberland County, Steven Muise was indicted for Class C Theft, Class B Aggravated Forgery and Class D Misuse of Identification for using his deceased father?s EBT card.

In Androscoggin County, Kathleen Schidzig was indicted for Class B Theft, Class B Aggravated Forgery and three counts of Class D Unsworn Falsification for misuse of approximately $25,000 in TANF and ASPIRE benefits.

And in October the Kennebec County Grand Jury indicted Leah Wright for Class C Theft and eight counts of Class B Aggravated Forgery for having falsified documents from four different medical providers asserting that she was pregnant over a forty month period of time in order to qualify for food stamps and MaineCare benefits.

Over the past year and half other members of the Attorney General?s Office have brought successful prosecutions against thirteen different individuals for recipient fraud. These cases included diversion of Electronic Benefits Transfer (?EBT?) cards, misuse of ASPIRE program benefits, and food stamp, MaineCare and housing fraud.

In addition, the Attorney General?s HealthCare Crimes Unit has recouped more than $7.6 million in the last fiscal year alone from the misuse of health care safety net programs by providers. Much of these recoveries resulted from illegal practices by pharmaceutical companies who obtained taxpayer dollars through improper marketing of drugs to MaineCare providers.

"Maine's taxpayers should not tolerate people who abuse the system, big or small, rich or poor. We all want a government that is accountable and wise. Taxpayers deserve no less," Mills stated.

?While Maine's rate of abuse is certainly no worse than that of other states, when people in the private sector are losing their jobs, their homes, their hopes and their dreams, we in government have an even higher duty to guard the public purse and to pursue those who game the system and abuse the people's trust.?

Assistant Attorney General Peter Black is a magna cum laude graduate of Fairleigh-Dickinson University, a cum laude graduate of University of Georgia and a Navy veteran who served during Operation Desert Storm, achieving the rank of Lieutenant. He has extensive litigation experience with some of Maine's most prestigious law firms.

Anyone with specific information about fraud at hospitals, nursing homes or other health care institutions should call the Attorney General's HealthCare Crimes Unit at 626-8870.

In addition, the Attorney General pointed out that since 2008 the Maine Department of Audit has had a fraud hotline. Any citizen who has specific information about fraud or abuse or other improper or illegal acts against the state should call the fraud hotline at 624-6250 or email that office at:

?People need to do more than simply complain about fraud. We need to work together to prevent fraud at all levels and to make sure that our hard earned tax dollars go to those truly in need,? Mills stated.