THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS
Ken Paxton

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Attorney General Abbott's Medicaid Fraud Investigators Arrest Two Rusk County Nursing Home Employees

HENDERSON - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit officers arrested two Rusk County nursing home employees this week who work at separate facilities, charging them with residential trust fund theft and acquiring pain killing prescription drugs meant for patients.

Our investigators are tirelessly pursuing those who would exploit nursing home residents for gain or divert needed prescriptions for their personal use, said Attorney General Abbott. Senior Texans deserve the highest quality of care our state’s system can provide.

Lola B. Stewart, 46, of Kilgore, former business manager at Overton Healthcare Center Nursing Home in Overton, has been charged with third-degree felony theft for a number of schemes resulting in over $72,000 diverted to her personally or to relatives. She was indicted by a grand jury on Nov. 8 and bond was set at $15,000.

As office manager, Stewart maintained the trust fund pool for all residents, including her grandmother, and had responsibility for accounting for royalty, retirement and other checks payable to specific residents. However, the Attorney General alleges she diverted more than $31,000 from these checks meant for other residents into her grandmother’s account.

In other schemes, she allegedly forged corporate payroll checks of former employees and deposited these into her own account, wrote trust fund checks and made these payable to her daughter, which depleted the accounts belonging to specific residents. She also is alleged to have manipulated the facility’s petty cash account, supposedly replenishing the account as it drew down, but actually pocketing the replenishment amount and making up the difference from residents’ trust fund balances.

In a separate case, Christopher W. Ferguson, 32, of Henderson, worked as a licensed vocational nurse at Southwood Nursing Home when his alleged offenses occurred. He is charged with a third-degree felony fraudulent possession of a controlled substance. During March of this year, he systematically diverted numerous prescription pain medications from patients whose physicians had prescribed them. He was indicted Nov. 8 and bond was set at $7,500.

Rusk County District Attorney Michael Jimmerson’s prosecutors will handle these cases.

The cases against Stewart and Ferguson reflect Attorney General Abbott’s ongoing commitment to crack down on those who defraud Medicaid across the state. To obtain more information about the Attorney General’s efforts to fight Medicaid fraud, access the agency’s Web site at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.