Detroit woman charged in Medicaid kickback scheme

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A second person has been charged in an alleged Medicaid kickback scheme involving a state employee, the Michigan Attorney General's office announced Thursday.

Carmen Rembert of Detroit owned Personal Care Home Services LLC between January 2015 and December 2017, investigators said in a statement.

During that time, an investigation found, Eliza Ijames, who worked for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as an independent living services specialist in the Wayne County Adult Services office, "was approving Medicaid beneficiaries for home help services ... and steering many of her clients to Rembert’s business," according to the release. "The State, in turn, made significant payments to Rembert’s business for the services provided."

The probe also revealed Rembert and Ijames co-managed the business’ bank account and both appeared to have withdrawn thousands of dollars for their personal use, state authorities reported Thursday.

"Kickbacks to a public servant in exchange for a steady stream of Medicaid work is against the law," Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “Rest assured both sides of any such an arrangement will be held accountable.”

Ijames was charged and convicted this year for multiple felonies stemming from the scheme.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General referred the case against Rembert to Nessel's Health Care Fraud Division.

“MDHHS takes very seriously any abuse of the Medicaid system — including any situation in which a department employee takes advantage of his or her position and betrays the public trust as other MDHHS employees are working to help people,” MDHHS Inspector General Alan Kimichik said. “Protecting program integrity is important so that funds are available for Michiganders who are in need of Medicaid benefits and taxpayer dollars are protected.”

Nessel charged Rembert with three felony counts of Medicaid fraud. The felonies are each punishable by up to four years in prison and a $30,000 fine, the state said.

The 61-year-old was arraigned Thursday in East Lansing's 54B District Court. Judge Andrea Larkin set bond at $90,000. A pretrial conference is scheduled for 8 a.m. Oct. 9.