(Atlanta – 25 February, 2002) Attorney General Baker announced today that a verdict was returned Friday afternoon in Bibb County against Mark Sharp for defrauding Georgia’s Medicaid program out of more than $1.6 million. After the jury returned a guilty verdict on the charge of Medicaid Fraud, Bibb County Superior Court Judge Lamar Sizemore sentenced Sharp to 4 years in prison, to be followed by 6 years on probation, plus a $50,000.00 fine.
In announcing the conviction and sentence, Attorney General Baker stated, “Our office continues to uncover cases where medical providers are abusing the Medicaid program because they think they are too smart to get caught. Today is yet another example of the fallacy of that logic. I will continue to vigorously prosecute those who would steal from state taxpayers to line their own pockets. When my office catches them, we will do more than just putting them out of business. I will put them in jail.”
Sharp was convicted for fraudulently billing the Medicaid program for treatment provided at his “Center for Families” mental health centers. The mental health centers at issue contracted with psychiatrists and psychologists to provide mental health services to Medicaid recipients, with billing for the sessions handled by Sharp’s company. Testimony at trial showed that Sharp billed the state’s medicaid program for patients who never went to his centers for treatment as well as over-billing for patients who were seen at his center. Parents of seven minors that Sharp’s billing claimed were treated at his centers testified that their children had never been to a Center for Families facility. Psychiatrists and psychologists that worked at Sharp’s facilities testified that some of the bills submitted by Sharp were for patients that they had never seen and other bills claimed that sessions were held by them on days where they weren’t even working at Sharp’s facilities. Sharp’s mental health centers are located in Macon, Warner Robins, Griffin, Stockbridge, Decatur and Alpharetta, and the fraudulent billing covered treatment allegedly provided at all of the treatment centers.
The case against Sharp was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General D. Williams-McNeely and Senior Assistant Attorney General Harrison Kohler. The investigation was conducted by Special Agent Curtis Wade of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Forensic Auditor Mike Ufret of the State Auditor’s office.