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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that a Milwaukee man faces charges related to a scheme to defraud the Wisconsin Medicaid Program involving false claims for funeral expenses. Douglas L. Patton has been charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, one count of forgery as a party to the crime, one count of engaging in the business of a funeral director without having a licensed funeral director in charge, one count of theft by fraud, and one count of theft.
According to the criminal complaint, Patton was engaged in a scheme to defraud the Wisconsin Medicaid program by the submitting a false claim for payment under the Wisconsin Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program and by forging documents to support his false claim. The Wisconsin Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program (WFCAP) provides funding for certain eligible Medicaid recipients’ funeral, burial, and cemetery expenses. The Milwaukee County Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) maintains oversight and administers WFCAP claims in that county. Medicaid is a healthcare program for the needy and disabled jointly funded by the state and federal governments.
The complaint alleges that Patton submitted an application for payment of a claim to MDHHS that was both falsely inflated and also contained a forged signature. An investigation revealed that the next-of-kin whom Patton claimed signed the application form on behalf of the deceased that purportedly supported his claim for services did not, in fact, sign the application form. Patton applied for – and was paid – $1,500 for the false claim.
The complaint further alleges that Patton engaged in a scheme to defraud the State by falsely claiming to have performed funeral services that were not performed, and by selling burial goods that were not provided. An investigation revealed that Patton charged for funeral and burial services including embalming, dressing/casketing, facilities and equipment, visitation, and a casket when the deceased was cremated, not buried, and no visitation or wake was held. The next-of-kin whom Patton claimed signed the Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected that purportedly supported his claim for services did not, in fact, sign the statement. Patton was paid $2,010.44 for the false claim.
The complaint further alleges that Patton was operating his business, Patton Funeral Services, without a licensed funeral director in charge associated with it as required by Wis. Stat. § 445.04. An investigation revealed that the person Patton Funeral Services designated as its licensed funeral director in charge has not worked for, or been paid by, Patton Funeral Services in at least three years.
A criminal complaint is a document accusing a person of a violation of criminal law. A defendant enjoys a presumption of innocence and the prosecution must prove its allegations at trial.
The case is being investigated and prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control and Elder Abuse Unit of the Wisconsin Department of Justice.