Former Social Worker Gets 13 Months for $1 Million Medicaid Fraud

** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND, FEB. 5-6 ** Washington state prisons Lt. Clan Jacobs, left, walks through a block of cells at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, Wash., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2005. The prison is the most crowded in the badly crowded state system, and many of the two-bunk cells …
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

A former social worker from North Carolina who took part in a $1 million Medicaid fraud scheme was sentenced Tuesday to 13 months in federal prison and ordered to repay $1 million to the federal government.

A federal judge sentenced Duke Ellington Ellis on Tuesday to 13 months behind bars for health care fraud and making false medical entries, and ordered Ellis repay $1 million to North Carolina’s Medicaid program, the News & Observer reported.

Prosecutors alleged that Ellis forged a licensed psychologist’s signatures on fraudulent orders for mental health services between 2011 to 2013 for the company Nature’s Reflections.

Nature’s Reflections, in turn, submitted the false Medicaid claims based on the fraudulent orders, according to the office of North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

The Durham-based company had offices all over North Carolina, and had been run by former North Carolina state football player Eric Leak.

Leak took a plea deal in March where he agreed to plead guilty to charges of money laundering and paying kickbacks while serving as the company’s executive director.

Ellis is not the first person to be sentenced to prison in North Carolina for defrauding Medicaid in the past month. A former CEO of a North Carolina health care company got sentenced to eight years behind bars and three years of supervised release in May for Medicaid fraud.