A former billing clerk pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday for stealing from the state’s Medicaid system. Shanta Denise Allen, 32, a former employee of E.A. Christian Faith Services in Houston, pleaded guilty to one count of Medicaid fraud for illegally billing Medicaid for counseling services that were never provided to Medicaid patients. In addition to the prison term, Allen was ordered to pay restitution of $32,262.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigated the case, which was prosecuted by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

“Texans will not tolerate criminals who defraud the taxpayers,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The Medicaid program is designed to provide assistance to Texans who cannot afford health care. When criminals make fraudulent Medicaid claims, they are stealing from taxpayers and breaking the law. Thanks to an outstanding joint effort by our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and Harris County District Attorney Charles Rosenthal, Jr., a scam that harmed Medicaid recipients and defrauded the taxpayers has been shut down.”

According to evidence gathered by MFCU investigators, Allen used E.A. Christian Faith Services to bill Medicaid from 2002 to 2003 for more counseling hours than were actually conducted. Investigators also found that even after several licensed counselors stopped working for E.A. Christian Faith Services, the defendant continued to bill Medicaid for the counselors’ services.

Eric Deshon Allen, Sr., 35, the defendant’s husband and former owner of the company, pleaded guilty in May to one count of Medicaid fraud for his part in the scheme. He was sentenced to five years probation and 240 hours of community service. He also paid $32,262 in restitution.

In 2005 alone, the costs of the Medicaid program in Texas totaled more than $17 billion. As the state’s chief law enforcement official, Attorney General Abbott has dramatically expanded the MFCU to save taxpayer dollars and increase protection for Texas seniors. The Unit has established field offices in Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Antonio and Tyler through authorization and funding from the 78th Legislature. Attorney General Abbott’s MFCU works with federal, state and local agencies to identify and prosecute those who defraud Medicaid.