June 21, 2010
The unit, formed in 1992 to focus on fraud, recently has expanded its scope into abuse and neglect cases.
Alejandra A. Schaub, 65, formerly of Anchorage, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of domestic violence assault on June 7. Ofelia Guiel, 47, pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment on June 8. At the time of the crime, Schaub was providing care for the elderly veteran in Guiel's Anchorage home.
The abuse came to light after Schaub took the victim to appointments at the Veterans Administration clinic and at Elmendorf Air Force Base. Various caregivers voiced suspicions of abuse to Guiel, who disregarded them and returned the victim to the home, where Schaub continued the abuse.
The Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was notified of the abuse in 2009. The victim previously had not revealed the identity of the abuser because he relied on her for assistance with his daily life. After he was transferred to another assisted living home, he disclosed that Schaub had broken his finger, flattened his nose and deformed his ears. Schaub fled the state, but with the assistance of the U.S. Marshall's service, she was found in Nevada and returned to Alaska.
Schaub, who had no prior record, was sentenced to a year in jail, with six months suspended, and was given probation for three years, with conditions that she have no contact with the victim and provide no care for elderly or infirm individuals. Guiel received a 90-day suspended jail sentence and also was placed on probation for three years. She is also prohibited from having any contact with the victim and from working in the Alaska Medicaid program for five years.
"Alaska will continue to ferret out those who prey on our most vulnerable, and will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law," said Deputy Attorney General Rick Svobodny, head of the criminal division in the Department of Law.
The Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is funded primarily by the federal government to investigate fraud and patient abuse and neglect, and is staffed by investigators, and auditor and a prosecutor. The unit has participated in nationwide actions against pharmaceutical companies that have resulted in the return of millions of dollars that had been siphoned from the state Medicaid program.
Last year, the unit concluded a case against one of the most significant known defrauders of Medicaid services in Alaska history. Sherry T. Trotter, president of On Call Nursing of Alaska, pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge and was sentenced to 36 months in prison, 28 months suspended, and ordered to pay more than $800,000 in restitution.
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