Juvenile court counselor sentenced for stealing $600K of taxpay - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Juvenile court counselor sentenced for stealing $600K of taxpayer money

(WMC-TV) - A Collierville woman was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to stealing more than $600,000 of taxpayer money by committing health care fraud.

Mechell D. Toles, 44, will spend the next three years in prison. In addition to the prison sentence, she will be required to pay $602,769 in restitution and serve three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

According to the information and statements made at the sentencing, Toles received referrals from the Shelby County Juvenile Court. Hundreds of her patients were enrolled in TennCare.

She was audited based on her high volume of counseling services. That audit raised questions about her billing practices.

A search warrant revealed that Toles billed for more than 24 hours of services in a single day, on more than one occasion. The investigation also revealed that she billed TennCare for patients on dates that they were no longer her patients, and billed for services that were not provided.

"While serving in a position of trust and being paid to help at-risk children, Dr. Toles instead brazenly helped herself to more than $600,000 of taxpayer monies by manipulating our nation's health-care benefits system," said U.S. Attorney Stanton. "Today's sentence should serve as a clear reminder that there are stiff and severe consequences for violating the public's trust."

Toles admitted that she was not sure how much money she had obtained but that she wanted to pay it back, and she did not have any particular need for the money. She had spent it, and said she knew at the time it was wrong but that it was "just easy to do".

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