On November 13, 2014, Judge Christopher S. Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court ordered convicted felon Nathaniel Johnson, of Atlanta, to repay the State of Georgia $300,000 in stolen Medicaid funds.
On July 17, 2014, after three days of jury trial, Johnson pled guilty to one felony count of Medicaid Fraud (O.G.G.A. § 49-4-146.1(b)), one felony count of Conspiracy to Defraud the State (O.C.G.A. § 16-10-21) and one felony count of allowing the Unlicensed Practice of Medicine (O.C.G.A. § 43-34-22). As part of the non-negotiated plea, Judge Brasher imposed a ten-year sentence with the first six months to serve in jail, ordered Johnson to surrender his license to practice medicine, and required repayment of stolen Medicaid funds.
During the trial, the State presented evidence that Johnson fraudulently billed Georgia Medicaid for services performed by an unlicensed and unsupervised medical school graduate. In addition, medical professionals and state investigators testified that Johnson fraudulently double-charged for services rendered during pregnancies, overbilled for claims such as office visits and failed to produce any documentation that some services were actually performed. The Court agreed, noting in its restitution order that Johnson’s “pleas of guilty conclusively demonstrate that he otherwise engaged in fraud, misrepresentation and lying in his dealings with the Medicaid program and with his own patients.”
At the restitution hearing on Monday, October 27, medical professionals and state investigators presented further evidence that Johnson stole over $300,000 from the State Medicaid Program. The State’s auditor testified that, for example, in some categories of billing, 100% of Johnson’s claims were fraudulent.
In response to the State’s presentation, Johnson and his attorneys argued that he could no longer afford to repay the stolen funds. However, the Court observed that “virtually every negative aspect of the defendant’s financial situation testified to in this matter has been the direct and proximate cause of the Defendant’s unlawful activity.” Finding that Johnson’s “attitude and affect during the restitution hearing in this matter could only properly be described as recalcitrant and contumacious toward the subject of his misdeeds,” the Court declined to give him much credit for his self-imposed financial woes.
The Court also observed that “ten years of probation is clearly a sufficient time for even someone of the relatively lesser means now possessed by the Defendant to make significant restitution payments.”
Assistant Attorney General Kevin Bradberry and Assistant Attorney General Steven Lee prosecuted the case on behalf of the State of Georgia. The investigation was conducted by Auditor Investigator Kim Kolesnik, Investigator Tiffany Reed, Special Agent Merlin Ector, Nurse Investigator Nancy Goddard, Intelligence Analyst Vanda Russell, and Investigator Chekesha Johnson with the assistance of the Georgia Department of Community Health.