|November 3, 2015
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office today arrested a general contractor for defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $100,000. Richard Lee Edwards, 60, owner of Richard Edwards Construction, Inc., allegedly billed for construction services without a license to perform the services and without obtaining required permits.
According to Attorney General Bondi’s MFCU and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s joint investigation, Edwards fraudulently billed for handicap accessible ramp construction and bathroom modifications for people with disabilities and the elderly. Due to Edwards’ modifications that violated multiple building codes, more than 20 homes in Gadsden, Leon and Taylor County were damaged and residents faced safety hazards.
“This individual not only violated numerous building codes, but recklessly put vulnerable Floridians’ health at risk,” said Attorney General Bondi. “I applaud my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation for their collaborative investigative efforts to protect individuals and their property.”
According to the investigation, Edwards built handicapped accessible ramps with sharp-ended protruding screws and posts not secured into the ground with concrete. Edwards’s bathroom modifications allegedly consisted of removing existing bathtubs and replacing them with walk-in-showers, a job requiring a plumbing contractor’s license that Edwards does not have. Additionally, Edwards allegedly built non-handicap accessible steps into showers that are supposed to be handicap accessible.
Edwards faces one count of Medicaid provider fraud more than $50,000, a first degree felony. If convicted, Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison, more than $600,000 in fines and restitution. The State Attorney’s Office for the Second Judicial Circuit will prosecute the case.
Attorney General Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates allegations of patient abuse, neglect, and exploitation in facilities receiving payments under the Medicaid program. Additionally, the MFCU investigates and prosecutes fraud involving providers that intentionally defraud the state's Medicaid program through fraudulent billing practices. Medicaid fraud essentially steals from Florida's taxpayers. From January 2011 to October 2015, Attorney General Bondi's MFCU has obtained more than $500 million in settlements and judgments.