Couple sentenced to prison for 'egregious' Medicaid fraud - KPTV - FOX 12

Couple sentenced to prison for 'egregious' Medicaid fraud

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Donte and Lakisha Muhammad Donte and Lakisha Muhammad
Evidence photo Evidence photo
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A former Clackamas County couple has been ordered to pay roughly $219,000 to the state of Oregon in what prosecutors are calling the most egregious case of client Medicaid fraud they've ever seen.

Lakisha and Donte Muhammad pleaded guilty earlier this year and Thursday they were sentenced and ordered to pay restitution.

Department of Justice Attorney Melissa Chureau said that Lakisha Muhammad claimed she couldn't walk or care for herself, but investigators took photos of her walking and said she was not severely disabled.

The couple also said they could not afford to pay for her care, so the state paid Donte Muhammad to be his wife's caretaker, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

However, Donte Muhammad was already employed, according to investigators. At one point, he was a TriMet bus driver. Later, investigators said the couple moved to Las Vegas, where they bought a five-bedroom home, and he earned $75,000 a year.

The couple had their Oregon Medicaid checks sent to various addresses in the Portland metro area. Those checks were then forwarded to them in Las Vegas, investigators said.

Lakisha Muhammad was sentenced to five years in prison. Donte Mohammad received a three-year sentence.

The Muhammads refused to talk to Fox 12 Thursday, but a friend said that Lakisha Muhammad is disabled and her husband did take care of her. He said they're not criminals.

"They were good people. They took care of their family and whatever they did couldn't have been that bad to get that type of time," said Yusef Muhammad, who is not related to the couple, but has known them for more than 20 years. "With their background, no criminal history at all, and then to get five years and break up a family, that's killing the baby and selling the blood."

It took five years for the state to discover the deception. State investigators said it has led to changes in how cases like these are reviewed.

"The Muhammads exploited a weakness in the system," Chureau said. "One program wasn't really talking to the other program. That weakness has since been fixed."

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