Three in Western MA accused of Medicaid fraud - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

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Three in Western MA accused of Medicaid fraud

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Three Western Massachusetts residents are facing charges of Medicaid fraud after a state investigation.

The three accused are part of a statewide investigation conducted by Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Coakley alleges that eight people across the state acted as personal care attendants who reportedly billed for services they never carried out, stealing taxpayer dollars.

CBS 3 knocked on the doors of the three accused in Western Massachusetts until we finally got an answer from 33-year-old Amarilis Pirela in Holyoke.

She faces four counts of filing false Medicaid claims and four counts of larceny for allegedly submitting time cards for services she says her brother provided - only he was in jail at the time on illegal weapons charges.

And, what's more, she's accused of filing time sheets over a five-week period for a member who had already died.

Pirela answered our questions but wouldn't show her face on camera.

She denies any sort of fraud, telling us her brother asked her to fill out the time cards, and he was the one who illegally collected the checks.

"As far as keeping the money, I'm not guilty. He kept it," she said.

Her brother is still doing prison time.

And as far as the member who had already died? She says it was her brother, and his Masshealth was shut off the day after he died.

"I even called myself and said my brother had passed away, so he had no Masshealth," she said.

Holly-Beth Riopel, a Palmer school teacher, is also one of the accused.

Coakley alleges she billed Masshealth for $44,000 in services she allegedly never even provided over a period of two years.

James Lynch of Agawam also faces charges for allegedly submitting false time sheets to Masshealth, claiming he was caring for a patient while working as a bus driver for the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative.

Coakley claims he cheated the system of out of $63,000.

Pirela says the only thing she's guilty of was listening to her brother.

"There's mistakes that I made, like leaving him on the payroll. I should've known better. And if I'm guilty of that, then I guess I've got to pay the consequences," she said.

Fraud in Massachusetts can carry prison time as well as fines.

Pirela will be arraigned in Hampden Superior Court on March 7.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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