TALLAHASSEE - A Jackson County woman has been sentenced to prison for wire fraud involving theft from two health care providers.
Melissa Moniz, 44, of Marianna, pled guilty in May to wire fraud in a case that involved theft from Jackson Hospital in Marianna and Gynecology and Obstetrics Associates in Tallahassee. Moniz was sentenced late Friday afternoon to six months in federal prison to be followed by six months of home confinement. Additionally, she was ordered to pay $41,813.77 in restitution to Gynecology and Obstetrics Associates.
The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
In December 2012, Moniz applied for employment with Jackson Hospital. Relying on Moniz’s résumé, which contained false claims of extensive medical management experience, the hospital hired Moniz as Director of Physician Practices. As part of her duties, Moniz urged Jackson Hospital officials to use her company, “Billing and Collection Services” (BCS), as a collections agency, claiming that she had used BCS for collections previously and knew the owner of BCS personally.
Based upon Moniz’s recommendation, the hospital signed a collections contract with BCS. Moniz failed to disclose the fact that BCS was actually her own company and that the person signing the contract on behalf of BCS was her sister. As a result of these misrepresentations and material omissions, Moniz fraudulently obtained $26,775.01 from Jackson Hospital.
In August 2014, Gynecology and Obstetrics Associates, Inc., (GOA), in Tallahassee, Florida, hired a firm to conduct an audit of all financial activities at the practice. The audit and subsequent investigation revealed that, between March 2007 and April 2013, GOA’s office manager, who was Moniz’s sister, embezzled approximately $1.5 million from GOA through a scheme involving fraudulent invoices, fictitious vendors, and payments funneled to the office manager’s personal accounts.
The investigation later disclosed that the GOA office manager used GOA monies to pay Moniz and BCS to conduct collections services for GOA. The collections services for which Moniz was paid were never performed. The office manager issued 39 checks from GOA to “BCBS,” making the checks appear as if they were issued to Blue Cross Blue Shield. However, the checks were actually provided to Moniz who endorsed and deposited them into her BCS bank account. The checks totaled $116,813.77.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Stephen M. Kunz prosecuted the case.