BRISTOL, VA (WJHL) – Three people who were involved in Medicaid fraud are scheduled to be sentenced in federal court next week.
Bryan Harr, his wife Melissa Harr, and a woman they hired to work with their child, Deborah Branch, have all pleaded guilty to defrauding the government insurance program.
Investigators say Branch was supposed to be providing services to help care for Bryan and Melissa Harr’s oldest child who has cerebral palsy.
But instead of caring for the 17-year-old, police say she was pocketing the money.
Jeff Overbeck, Special Agent with the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Inspector General, says soon after Branch was hired, she approached the Harrs and told them she would give them $200 every two weeks if they would sign her time sheets and say she was doing her job.
He said this went on for more than five years.
“We found on her Facebook that she was actually down in Myrtle Beach on vacation at a beach condo at the same time we found instances where she submitted time sheets for services provided to the child,” Overbeck said.
There was $302,632 in Virginia Medicaid loss and $207,854 went into Branch’s pocket.
The Harrs had three children who at the time were ages 9, 10 and 17.
Investigators eventually noticed the children had been locked in a room, in what Overbeck describes as “horrific” conditions.
“Two bare mattresses on the floor. There was feces spread all over the wall. We found out that the children weren’t allowed any bathroom privileges, that they were locked in there for multiple hours during the day,” Overbeck said.
He also said the windows to the room were nailed shut because the children tried to escape. There was no electricity or heat in the room and the kids had created toy soldiers from the stuffing in the mattresses just so they would have something to do.
The Harrs have been sentenced for child abuse and neglect.
Brian Harr is serving four years, Melissa is serving three years.
Meanwhile, the Harrs and Branch are scheduled to be sentenced in the Medicaid fraud case next Thursday.
The three children in the case are in state care.
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