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ATTORNEY GENERAL OBTAINS GUILTY PLEA OF GAINESVILLE DOCTOR FOR MEDICAID FRAUD

PRESS ADVISORY

ATTORNEY GENERAL OBTAINS GUILTY PLEA OF GAINESVILLE DOCTOR FOR MEDICAID FRAUD

March 9, 1998

Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker announced today that on Monday, March 9, 1998, Sharon Hinkson, a Gainesville physician, entered a plea of guilty to felony charges of Medicaid fraud and theft by taking. Senior Judge Rufe McCombs sentenced Dr. Hinkson to ten years, two to be served in prison, and required her to pay $200,000 in restitution to the State. In addition, Dr. Hinkson was required to surrender her medical license for the duration of the sentence. The charges arose from fraudulent billings submitted by Dr. Hinkson to the Department of Medical Assistance between 1994 and 1995. Through her practice, Dr. Hinkson gained access to Medicaid recipient numbers and billed for office visits and other services which were never delivered. For many days during the two-year period examined by investigators, Dr. Hinkson routinely billed for office visits of 50 to130 recipients a day even though she saw only 15 to 20 people. Using this fraudulent scheme, Dr. Hinkson stole over $470,000 in taxpayer money from the Department of Medical Assistance during 1994 and 1995.

Investigators also found that Dr. Hinkson was prescribing narcotic-type drugs in inappropriate combinations and quantities. According to investigators, none of the records demonstrated any medical necessity for the use of these drugs and may have been administered "for the purpose of getting high."

Attorney General Thurbert Baker stated, "I have said all along that Medicaid fraud, which costs this state over $300 million every year, is one of my top priorities. I will aggressively pursue those who choose to steal tax dollars paid by the hardworking people of this state. We will find a way to make them pay for these crimes."

The case was investigated by GBI Special Agent Ty Mueller and Auditor Karen Hartley, and prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Nancy B. Allstrom and Elizabeth D. Redisch. Hall County District Attorney Lydia Sartain assisted and fully supported the prosecution.