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Home / Special Sections / Attorneys of the Year / 2021 Attorneys of the Year: Protecting Minnesotans from Medicaid Fraud, State v. Remona Lysa Brown
Nicholas Wanka and Kristi Nielsen of the Office of the Attorney General
Nicholas Wanka and Kristi Nielsen of the Office of the Attorney General

2021 Attorneys of the Year: Protecting Minnesotans from Medicaid Fraud, State v. Remona Lysa Brown

When health care providers defraud the Medicaid system, the expense not only comes out of taxpayers’ pockets, it also prevents other vulnerable people in need from receiving health care services they deserve. That’s why Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has promised to aggressively pursue Medicaid fraud throughout the state.

Last year, Assistant Attorneys General Nicholas Wanka and Kristi Nielsen of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit took the lead in convicting a former home-care nursing agency operator in Worthington, Minnesota, on 14 felony counts of aiding and abetting theft.

Remona L. Brown of Lansing, Michigan, was convicted in May in a case that focused on the now-defunct Caring & Compassionate Healthcare Agency. Authorities say Brown submitted more than 6,000 false claims over three years, allegedly scamming Medicaid out of more than $1.8 million.

Brown was ordered to repay the full $1.8 million and sentenced to five years in prison followed by more than two years under supervised release. The jury trial came after several years of delays in the case due to additional charges Brown faced in her home state of Michigan and to COVID-related delays.

“I wish I could say these types of allegations are atypical, but they’re not,” says Wanka, who is director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the AG’s office. “Most people don’t see the kind of seedy underbelly of what can happen in some of these programs. They’re built for very good purposes to benefit Minnesotans who need the care, and unfortunately, there are a select few people who take advantage of that to enrich themselves.”

The case came to light when former employees of Brown’s filed complaints alleging violations of the Federal False Claims Act by Brown’s company. Brown’s former employees identified numerous instances of fraud during the trial.

Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2021 here.

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