More charged in hospital fraud

3 accused of stealing from bonus program

November 04, 2006|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

A scandal over the employee referral bonus program at University of Maryland Medical Center widened yesterday when federal prosecutors announced that three more employees had been charged with pocketing funds.

A federal grand jury indicted Paula Anderson, 39; her mother, Carlet Clemons, 59; and Michael Venable, 31, all of Baltimore, in a $1.5 million scheme to defraud the university. The indictment was returned yesterday and unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendants.

All three appeared in U.S. District Court yesterday.

University of Maryland Medical Center had a program that paid bonuses to employees for each new employee they recruited and referred to the hospital. The employee referral bonuses ranged from $500 to $5,000 per hire.

According to the six-count indictment, Anderson, who worked in the medical center's human resources department as an administrative assistant, illegally sent referral bonuses to her colleagues, including Clemons and Venable, between 2003 and this year. Clemons and Venable worked for other parts of the university's medical center.

Clemons, Venable and others would keep a portion of each referral bonus and give the rest to Anderson, according to the indictment.

From 2003 to 2005, the university paid about $1.47 million in employee referral bonuses, of which about $317,811 was obtained fraudulently, prosecutors said.

Seven others -- Baltimore residents Samantha White, Candice DeShields, Terre Barrett, Keith Dickerson and Lisa Guerrero, Sandra Lowery of Laurel and Kimberly Love of Capitol Heights -- have pleaded guilty to participating in and benefiting from the scheme.

If convicted, the defendants indicted this week could receive a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years' supervised release and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge and 10 years in prison, three years' supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each count of theft of government funds.

Anderson also could receive five years in prison, three years' supervised release and a $250,000 fine if convicted of obstructing the investigation.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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