|May 16, 2013
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has arrested a 46-year-old Palm Beach County day-care owner for allegedly defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $500,000. Maria Estela Edward is charged with Medicaid fraud and grand theft, both first-degree felonies. The investigation alleges that Edward was fraudulently billing the Florida Medicaid program for speech language pathology services that were never provided at Ismaelillo Learning Centers I and II. Edward’s business partner, Irene Terrero, was arrested in March on the same charges.
“Falsely claiming to provide speech therapy to children and billing Florida’s Medicaid program for services that were never rendered is unethical and illegal,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “My Medicaid Fraud Control Unit will continue working to ensure that every dollar spent on Medicaid goes to Floridians in need, not to criminals abusing the system.”
If convicted of all charges, Edward faces up to 60 years in prison. The case is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution. The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates and prosecutes fraud involving providers that intentionally defraud the state’s Medicaid program. In addition, the unit investigates the abuse, neglect and exploitation of elderly, ill and disabled residents of long-term care facilities.