February 9, 2005
Kansas City, Mo. — A Kansas City couple who own and operate a counseling service have pleaded guilty to felony counts charging them with defrauding the Missouri Medicaid program and the Division of Family Services' Children's Treatment Services program of more than $242,000. All the charges were in connection with a scheme designed to receive payments from the Medicaid program and Children's Treatment Services for counseling services that were not provided or were provided by non-qualified therapists.
Carri Anne Ellis (DOB — 11/2/70); her husband, Brian J. Ellis (DOB 4/13/58); and their business, Change of Heart Inc., were indicted last summer by a Jackson County grand jury on charges of Medicaid fraud, forgery and stealing by deceit. The indictment was handed down at the request of Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon and Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael D. Sanders.
On Tuesday, Carri Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of Medicaid fraud, two counts of stealing by deceit and one count of forgery. Brian Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of Medicaid fraud, one count of stealing by deceit and one count of forgery. Change of Heart pleaded guilty to one count of Medicaid fraud.
Circuit Judge Jay A. Daugherty ordered Change of Heart to pay a $10,000 fine to the state and ordered all three defendants to be responsible to repay the Missouri Medicaid program $242,010.50. In addition, Carri Ellis was ordered to repay the DFS Children's Treatment Services Program $22,312.78, the amount she defrauded that agency.
Judge Daugherty sentenced Brian Ellis to five years on each count, to run concurrently. The judge suspended execution of the sentence and placed him on five years probation and under house arrest for 60 days. Sentencing for Carri Ellis is scheduled for April 1.
Change of Heart is located at 6301 Rockhill Road, Suite 411, in Kansas City. Carri Ellis is the president of Change of Heart, and Brian Ellis is the vice president.
The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney General's Office, formed by Nixon in 1994, has authority under state law to investigate and prosecute, both civilly and criminally, allegations of fraud against Missouri's Medicaid program.