Moved to America, got citizenship, defrauded State of Alaska of Medicaid dollars - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, December 7, 2019
HomeThe 907Moved to America, got citizenship, defrauded State of Alaska of Medicaid dollars

Moved to America, got citizenship, defrauded State of Alaska of Medicaid dollars

AND THEN THERE’S THE BOOZE, METH, AND A STOLEN $364,756

Victor Aldeza, Regino Aldeza, and Albert Aldeza were keeping their lucrative crime business in the family for nearly a decade.

For years, they defrauded the Alaska Medicaid program of $364,756.70, by having one of them fake a disability so they could all mooch off the government.

They barely even tried to hide their scheme and the judge who sentenced them today said they showed no sign of stopping.

There were numerous counts against the Aldezas since their arrest in 2017, but in the end, the State accepted pleas for some of the felony counts, let them plead out on others, and they were sentenced today, ending the saga.

The irony is that once they start serving their prison time, they’ll have all their medical needs covered by the State of Alaska during their incarceration. If they need medical care outside the prison, that will be covered by … wait for it … Medicaid.

HOW THEY DID IT

The case is a textbook example of how Medicaid fraud occurs. It involves personal care assistants who are providing in-home care and being reimbursed by U.S. taxpayers through the Medicaid program.

The Alaska Medicaid program, as in most states, pays for PCA agencies to provide care to seniors or disabled people enrolled in Medicaid, and this allows the medically vulnerable person to remain in their own home rather than be placed in a long-term care facility.

A contract is worked out between the Department of Health and Social Services and the PCA agency to determine the number of hours and the exact sort of care the client needs, such as feeding, helping them use the toilet, bathing, and other daily needs.

Medicaid pays approximately $24 an hour to the PCA agency and the agency must pay the actual care provider at least half of that amount. Often, that provider is a member of the family.

This Alveda crime syndicate case involved various types of Medicaid fraud.

Travel billing fraud: When Medicaid is billed for services that could not have been provided because the provider or recipient was traveling out of country at the time for which the services were billed.

Faking health condition: This type of fraud is called malingering and it’s when a client exaggerates or fakes their health condition, and then colludes with the PDA agency or health care provider to continue billing for services that are not needed.

Time sheet fraud: Billing for services that could not have occurred when they said they occurred.

Arctic Care Services provides oversight for such PCA services. On March 18, 2017, an employee of Arctic Care Services was in the Dimond Mall food court in Anchorage, when he recognized Regino Aldeza working at the Charley’s Philly Steaks fast food restaurant.

That was odd, because Regino was listed as significantly disabled, a Medicaid recipient being taken care of by his personal care assistant, Victor Aldeza, who was employed by Arctic Care Services.

And yet, the Arctic Care Services worker observed Regino working normally and without any physical strain at the fast-food restaurant.

The records show that the Aldeza family was billing Medicaid for nearly full-time care — about 36.5 hours per week in assisting Regino with all aspects of his life — eating, locomotion, toileting, meal preparation, basic household chores, basic walking, and range of motion exercises, and personal hygiene.

Victor Aldeza, Regino Aldeza, and two powers of attorney George Aldeza and Alberto Aldeza had convinced Arctic Care and DHSS that Regino needed that full-time health care, including “six mobility transfers, eight locomotion events, two dressing events, three eating events, eight meal preps (seven ‘light’ meals and one ‘main’ meal), six toilet uses, one personal hygiene, one ‘shopping’ event, and two vital sign checkups.”

Victor, George, Albert and their sister were billing all or nearly all of these services every day for years by submitting time sheets to Arctic Care, saying services had been performed for Regino. In his weekly case notes, Victor was supposed to indicate if there was any improvements or declining Regino’s health. He always wrote no, no change for better or worse.

And yet, there was Reginoonce again on March 21, 2017, working hard a the mall, moving heavy objects, conversing normally, using the cash register to make change, preparing meals quickly in a fast-food environment. He was driving to and from work, and walking to and from his car. He was changing into and out of his uniform.

There was nothing wrong with Regino Aldeza.

Well, except the alcohol and meth problem, and the domestic violence charges and violating conditions of release resulting from that episode. He was in and out of jail a bit, but the bills kept on coming.

A search warrant into Regino’s medical records showed that he had, indeed, developed a single canker sore, and had dizzy spells after he took up smoking meth. He had the occasional bout of gout and headaches. He had a several-week episode of going to the emergency room for various maladies related to meth. Yes, he had a history of an aneurysm but no medical professional had noted a disabling medical condition. His last followup for his aneurysm was in 2008.

On March 29, 2017, the Medicaid Fraud Unit assigned the case and the investigator reviewed and confirmed that Regino had worked at fast food restaurants since 2015, and had worked at Wrightway Auto Carriers in 2012. Regino had obtained a fishing and hunting license for years, received a speeding ticket in 2012 in Kenai, and had been arrested for assault. He lost his passport because he was delinquent on his child support.

The investigator also found that while Victor was billing for taking care of Regino, Victor was at times out of the country, or was billing for times when Regino was working away at his fast-food job, as shown on Dimond Mall surveillance video, or when he was in the custody of the Department of Corrections.

The entire fraud timeline took place between 2009 and 2017, when the long arm of the law caught up with the Aldezas.

The three defendants entered pleas to felony fraud and theft counts. On Thursday, Judge Catherine Easter sentenced Victor and Regino Aldeza to identical sentences of five years with two and half years suspended, probation five years.  She sentenced Albert Aldeza to four years, with two suspended, probation five years. All were ordered to reimburse the state Medicaid program $364,000 in restitution.  

Assistant Attorney General Eric Senta argued that the Aldezas’ scheme victimized a state program with extremely limited funding, stealing money intended to pay for disabled children’s wheelchairs and compassionate end-of-life care for the state’s sick and elderly. 

The defendants, from the Philippines originally, have significant ties out of the country. Regino immigrated to the U.S. in 1985, and became a citizen in 2008, George immigrated around 2016, and Victor Aldeza routinely travels out of the country. All listed the same residence on their drivers licenses — a home owned by Victor.

Judge Easter stated that the defendants had been signing fraudulent documents at least twice a month for years and if not for an alert case worker who tipped off the state’s Medicaid Fraud Unit, the fraud would have continued indefinitely, a fraud that she said was motivated by pure greed.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • They’ll never pay the money back. I feel they all should be denied any medical care unless it is payed for out of their own pockets, and should never receive any other assistance, ever. While incarcerated, they should be made to work off – at a minimum wage – at least a portion of what they owe, and should not receive any compensation to be used in the prison canteen. Once their sentence is served, kick them out of the country. The state should seize any money, household goods and other personal items, vehicles, etc. and sell them.

  • Is there no accounting or fraud dept.?

  • Outstanding story, Suzanne. One of your best!

  • If the PCA worker had just joined a public union then I’m sure the union would have defended their fraud in court!

    • You’re a sad Synic. The only reason you probably make as much as you do is because Union Membership raises the standard of living for everyone

      • I believe he meant the comment in jest…

        • The comment made no sense, whether in jest or not.
          It’s not like a private sector employee can just join a public union on a whim.

          • They are unionized as public employees in some states; run by Democrats, of course.

          • As you well know Art, we are talking Alaska here and the comment made no sense in that sense.
            Did you have a point here?

      • And you’re a tired, old koolaid drinker.

      • Great idea, but will Alaska have the guts to do it?

    • There is a reason public employee unions, especially SEIU have tried to organize personal care workers around the country. Organize the employees isn’t really what they do; they organize the government to have it give them the employees. The other advantage it has is many of the people served are not mentally competent, so the union personal care worker can “help” them vote absentee.

      • Why isn’t Arctic Care Services being held accountable for this pattern of fraud? If the Aldezas defrauded the State for $100’s of thousands, surely the PCA agency made oversights time and time again. At the very least, they should be made to reimburse the State Medicaid program an amount equal to the amount the Aldezas fraudulently received (and then have their license pulled).

  • So, eight to nine years of fraud and $364,000 stolen. Why isn’t the house being seized to pay for this debt? George should be deported when his sentence is up. What’s oddest though is the lack of fraud prevention at Alaska Medicaid. Sure, they have a fraud dept., but why aren’t they randomly (or even better routinely) running the Social Security numbers of people receiving benefits as well as their caregivers to uncover a pattern of illegal earning?

    • DHSS is where competence goes to die.

    • It’s called empire building. You wouldn’t risk kicking those kids out of their wheelchairs, would you?

  • And we are giving these wasteful programs half of our PFD? What a crock of #*#. Time to take back Alaska!

  • It’s about time people are made accountable for defrauding the government. Yes, they should be denied state assistance and deported. Thank you for an outstanding story, Suzanne.

  • A simple check between IRS 1040’s and Medicaid by virtue of a computer program, would have kicked out names for review. Maybe. The employer’s have to submit employee names with their payroll tax reports so it could have been caught that way because these people figured out the inadequacies of our government and it’s oversight. A computer report would have spit out different employers for these people.

  • They are not alone, Alaska is the ‘Gold Standard’ of govt medical health care and there are tons working the system. If you don’t believe me read the story here:
    https://apnews.com/cf059f93e4e647e0a171fda48547637e

    Sad, yet there are so many State workers not even looking…they’re ‘Administrators’…

  • If even 30% of the legitimate citizens of America had any clue as to the depths of this welfare perversion, we might start to see a change.

    This is a mild case. Sadly, the government workers in many of these agencies will jump though hoops to approve people like this for all they can get.

    Did you know that in the last year the treasury sent over a billion dollars in social security benefits to people without a social security number?

    • Thanks for giving us your best work, Suzanne. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Right or why wasn’t Arctic Services performing unannounced home visits just to make sure their client was in bed or etc. Do you think any other Filipinos knew about this but were keeping mum?

    • Absolutely they know. I did a six month stint with the Medicaid third party organization over there on Bragaw when I was in grad school. The amount of supplies and big purchase items allowed by Medicaid is astonishing and alarming. The amount of creams, ointments, adult diapers and other personal supplies that the big suppliers in town send to the Assisted Living Facilities (mostly run by the Filipinos) would/should make you cringe. I was amazed by the number of Alaskans living in those facilities. I was more amazed by the vast amount of “stuff” that they get. Just ride past the open ALF garages on Westlyan north side and you’ll see for yourself.

  • Great story. I think it highlights the corruption of an entire system. It isn’t about just the defendant’s in this case but about a perversion of what Government can and cannot do to help individuals. Programs are funded with good intentions, unfortunately these programs are administered by an industry that sucks up most of the juice before it the intended recipients get a sip.

  • Sadly tip of the iceberg while truly needy are denied, or often decline care out of pride. There is a house, take it, but no punishment will accomplish anything to remove these parasites from the State teat. We Americans are a generous, tolerant people, who spend fortunes on the less fortunate while tolerating the most aberrant social behaviors. It is our nature, as Aesop describes:

    One winter a Farmer found a Snake stiff and frozen with cold. He had compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom. The Snake was quickly revived by the warmth, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound. “Oh,” cried the Farmer with his last breath, “I am rightly served for pitying a scoundrel.” Moral: The greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful.

    A sad commentary to write on this day of Thanksgiving for our blessings.

  • I wonder if this could be sent to the Feds on immigration fraud, thus deported and citizenship revoked.
    As to the judges sentencing, BS!

    • It usually takes seven figures to get the Feds interested.

    • This may well be the way to attack this IMO. The reasoning here is that, according to recent Gringo Gazette article, the IRS is cancelling passports of people with large outstanding debt. Granted this is IRS debt but there could be a way for other debt to get the Feds attention.

  • They should have to do forced labor in order to eat and stay warm.

  • Walker’s legacy. Medicaid is easily defrauded. Be it falsified claims of illness or loading up a Medicaid Charter flight with building materials. Think about it — chance is why we are reading about these Frauds. Someone happen to spot the defrauder, or an overloaded Beaver crashing just out of Willow.
    Thank you for the wonderful insightful article. Please follow up on this topic as it will reveal the enormous black hole of waste associated with Medicaid.

  • Do you know the money that these people collect this money tax free.

  • Ain’t America great? We need more immigrants to fill these jobs that Americans just won’t do.

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