Officials: Woman exchanged DSS info on children for cash, gifts

by: Jenna Deery Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Authorities said personal information for dozens of children was sold for cash and gifts.

A Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services worker is facing federal charges accused of operating a Medicaid fraud scheme to get kickbacks.

Court documents Channel 9 just obtained say the fraud began over a year ago.
        
Eyewitness News reporter Jenna Deery just went through those records line by line and has more on the arrest of Ieshia Watkins.

Deery checked with county officials, but they couldn’t reveal Watkins' employment status, citing the investigation.

But according to court records obtained by Channel 9, Watkins was someone who had access to names and information on DSS clients, mainly children, as part of her job.

The alleged scheme was laid out in a five-page federal bill of information.

It said Watkins gathered DSS client information and sold that information to Ronnie Robinson in exchange for cash and gifts.

Court records said she received at least $10,000 as payment for selling DSS client names and identifying information to Robinson. They said he then used the information to submit nearly $30,000 in false and fraudulent claims to Medicaid.

Robinson ran the non-profit Peaceful Alternative Resources which offered mental health and mentoring services.

Watkins is accused of sending Robinson the names and information of about 25 juvenile clients.

In January Robinson pleaded guilty to health care fraud after scheming to defraud Medicaid of $3.4 million in fraudulent reimbursement payments from false claims.

County officials will not comment about Watkins, her employment history or client information protection within DSS.
    
Deery will talk to a county commissioner who sits on a committee who oversees DSS.

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham sits on the county's Audit and Health and Human Services Committee.

She has questions about information protection within DSS.

“It certainly is something where you have to take a moment and take a step back and say what happened here? Why didn't we know this?” she said.

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