Underreporting of Assets for Medicaid Coverage Leads to Criminal Conviction

Donald A. Hochhalter was sentenced after pleading guilty to making false statements or representations in a matter involving Medicaid. Hochhalter, a resident of New Leipzig, North Dakota, was sentenced to six months’ probation and was ordered to pay $25 as a special assessment to the Crime Victim’s Fund after he was found to have unreported his mother’s assets on a Medicaid form so that she would eligible for Medicaid. According to the announcement of this sentencing, Hochhalter has already paid restitution to the state and federal government and was ordered to pay damages pursuant to a parallel civil matter.

Criminal Matter

Hochhlater pleaded guilty to the criminal charge, which is a misdemeanor, on January 16, 2014. On April 28, 2014, U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland sentenced him to six months’ probation in addition to the $36,995 in full restitution that Hochhalter previously returned to the United States Treasury and the state of North Dakota. Timothy Q. Purdon, a U.S. Attorney from the District of North Dakota, announced the sentencing.

Civil Matter

Hochhalter’s representations regarding his mother’s assets on the Medicaid application were also the subject of a civil suit. The U.S. government brought claims against him for violation of the False Claims Act and recovered an additional $37,121 in the settlement of that suit.

Investigation

According to Purdon, in the investigation of this matter, “state and federal law enforcement worked together to help safeguard Medicaid and to send the message that making misrepresentations to obtain government benefits is a crime, will be prosecuted, and has serious consequences.” The investigation was a joint effort by both the North Dakota Department of Human Services and the HHS Office of the Inspector General. The executive director of North Dakota’s Department of Human Services, Maggie Anderson, stated that the state’s administration was “pleased with the collaboration between federal law enforcement and the state because we all share the same interest in making sure the taxpayer dollars are spent correctly.”