S.C. man pleads guilty to Medicaid fraud at nursing homes, including one in Aiken

A South Carolina man who operates six nursing homes in the state, including one in Aiken, has pleaded guilty to defrauding more than $1 million from state Medicaid programs.

According to a news release from the state Attorney General’s Office, Richard C. Cooke, 53, of Lake View, was a key figure in Cooke Management Co., which operates nursing homes in Aiken, Bishopville, Fork, Florence, Kingstree and Fountain Inn. Azalea Woods in Aiken is operated by the management company.

Authorities said Cooke submitted fraudulent cost reports to the South Carolina Medicaid program. He pleaded guilty after two indictments charged him with felony forgery and four indictments of misdemeanor medical assistance provider fraud.

Under Medicaid regulations, nursing homes are required to submit annual operational cost reports for the program to pay them for residents qualified under Medicaid. From 2009 to 2011, the nursing homes were overpaid $1.02 million.

Cooke has been required to make restitution for the total amount and will be excluded from the Medicaid program for life. He also was sentenced to 10 years on the two forgery indictments, to run concurrently, suspended to five years’ probation. For the four Medicaid fraud counts, he was sentenced to three years on each count, to run consecutively, but all suspended.

Cooke already has paid $500,000 toward his restitution.

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