Speech pathologist guilty of healthcare fraud sentenced to probation
An Olmito speech pathologist was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay nearly a half million dollars in restitution after being found guilty earlier this year of conspiring to defraud Texas Medicaid through fraudulent billings.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen imposed the sentence late this morning.
Hanen, who presided over 67-year-old Georgia Phillips’ trial in September 2017 found her guilty of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud on Feb. 28.
The United States Attorney’s Office, for the Southern District of Texas, had asked Hanen to sentence Phillips to between two years to just over five years and her attorney’s asked the federal judge to order her sentence be served under house arrest. She faced a maximum of ten years in prison.
In Hanen’s February ruling, he determined that Phillips conspired to submit false and fraudulent claims to Texas Medicaid on behalf of Children’s First Pediatric Rehabilitation in Harlingen and Georgia M. Phillips LLC in Brownsville, the USAO announced after the ruling.
During testimony, Hanen determined that the total amount of false and fraudulent claims to be $821,145 that were submitted from May 1, 2009, to May 31, 2012, by the two clinics.
Hanen ordered Phillips to pay $442,097 in restitution.
Phillips was charged along with her two sons, Brandon Kyle Phillips and Cody Phillips and her husband, James Thomas Phillips.
Hanen found that Cody Phillips and James Thomas Phillips were not guilty on all of the charges levied against them.
The USAO dismissed the charges against Brandon Kyle Phillips in 2017. Brandon Kyle Phillips died on June 1, 2017, from multiple organ failure and sepsis after a lung transplant, court records show.
During the hearing, Georgia Phillips testified that her son died three months before the trial and though she misses him everyday, she is relieved he did not have to go to trial.
She also told Hanen she is the only caretaker for her 95-year-old mother, babysits her surviving son’s young children five days a week and offers emotional and physical support to her husband, who suffers from severe Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
She also said she has been unable to find a job because she is a convicted felon.
“My professional and personal life has been turned upside down,” she said during sentencing.
Hanen also ordered her to serve 1,000 hours of community service, and said he hoped that could be done through free speech pathology treatment for people in Cameron County who couldn’t otherwise afford such treatment.