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Couple bilked Medicaid for $600K

A local couple is facing racketeering and fraud charges after allegedly taking more than $600,000 from Medicaid, filing thousands of fraudulent claims through their Norcross-based mentoring and counseling program.

A Gwinnett County grand jury indicted this week Dr. Derrell Jackson and now-former wife Shayla Darrington Jackson, the 2005 co-founders of Project Focus LLC. According to the indictments and information from the Georgia Attorney General's Office, the Jacksons enrolled Project Focus -- "a mental health counseling center dedicated to children, adolescents and families" -- in the Medicaid program about two years later.

Over the next three years they filed 3,129 claims for a total of $605,044.22 -- all fraudulent, officials said.

"They did render services," Lauren Kane, spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, said, "but the services were inept and incomplete for the most part."

Indictments list 25 patients that the Jacksons allegedly filed fraudulent claims on behalf of between April 2007 and April 2010. They received more than 100 paid claims under most of those individuals' Medicaid accounts, going as high as 184 claims and $38,000 for single patients.

The scheme was first discovered after the Jacksons failed to show up for back-to-back audits in early 2010. Investigations later revealed that they had presented false "progress notes" in patient files during 2009 audits, officials said.

"Additionally, many of the progress notes were forged using the name of a non-existent employee," according to the Attorney General's Office. "In the final analysis, services simply had not been provided as claimed by the Jacksons."

The couple -- which divorced during "the latter part of the fraudulent activity," Kane said -- was indicted on charges of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, Medicaid fraud and theft by taking, all felonies.

Kane said they had not been taken into custody as of Friday afternoon, though bench warrants were "in place" for their arrest.

Calls to numbers listed for the Project Focus office were unsuccessful Friday. A website for the organization was no longer active.

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