Two Lynn Massachusetts residents, Marilyn Beltran,42, and Eliu Matos, 43, have been indicted in connection with an alleged check scam involving MassHealth’s transportation program. The two will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on January 17. It is alleged that Beltran, who was employed by a private company contracted to administer the transportation program, filed fraudulent reimbursement claims between October of 2003 and July of 2012. She allegedly cashed the checks for herself, even though the claims were for family members. Matos allegedly helped Beltran by cashing some of the checks, which Beltran made out in his name. Both are facing numerous counts of larceny over $250 and presentation of false claims. According to a press release from the Attorney General’s office, Beltran was a transportation specialist, and her primary responsibility was reimbursement data entry. The alleged scheme yielded more than $490,000. An internal investigation allegedly uncovered this scheme. The company at which Beltran worked has offered to pay restitution and has promised to implement better auditing and oversight procedures.
In a statement, Attorney General Martha Coakley said, “This deception not only defrauds taxpayers, it also exploits the integrity of a system that is meant to help those most in need.”MassHealth provides both emergency and non-emergency transportation services to those with low income. According to the MassHealth website, those with certain types of MassHealth coverage can be reimbursed for use of public transportation and travel costs greater than $5, provided that the medical appointment is not within walking distance and the services are documented. Van and taxi services are available to those without access to public or private transportation, so long as a health care provider authorizes the need for transportation. It is unclear how Beltran would have been able, as the government alleges, to make claims on behalf of family members. It is also unclear, from reviewing the requirements for reimbursement, how one’s health care provider would not become aware of fraud, since the medical services generally need to be documented and the provider must certify the need for transportation.
In cases such as this one, a larceny over $250 charge is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for up to five years. At the district court level, a charge of larceny over $250 is punishable by up to two years in jail. The prosecution of Beltran and Matos will likely be very aggressive, given the large amount of money involved and the fact that, as noted by Coakley, the alleged scheme will probably undermine public confidence in the system.