Niles couple pleads guilty to Medicaid fraud charges

Published 4:44 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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LANSING — A Niles couple charged with several felony counts of Medicaid fraud through their counseling practice pled guilty yesterday in the Ingham County Circuit Court, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced. 

Gregory Barney pled to two counts of Medicaid Fraud – False Claim; his wife, Jacquelyn Barney, also pled to two counts of Medicaid Fraud – False Claim. The Barneys agreed to pay over $48,000 restitution to the Medicaid program. Each charge is a four-year felony. 

Gregory Barney, a licensed marriage and family counselor, is the owner of Highland Counseling Center, located in Niles, Michigan. His wife, Jacquelyn Barney, is the office manager, administrator, and biller for the business. 

The Department of Attorney General’s investigation revealed that Jacquelyn Barney, while working as a biller for a separate local medical office, obtained patient information from the other practice and billed Medicaid for counseling sessions provided by Gregory Barney and the Highland Counseling Center that were never provided. Clients contacted during the investigation stated they did not know Gregory Barney and were not counseled by him. 

“My office takes instances of Medicaid fraud very seriously,” Nessel said. “Charging a practitioner underscores our commitment to protecting the integrity of the Medicaid program and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used appropriately. We will continue to vigorously prosecute those who attempt to defraud the system and hold them accountable for their actions.” 

Jacquelyn and Gregory Barney were charged in the 54B District Court in Ingham County and arrested in September 2021. They were arraigned in October of that year before Judge Richard Ball. Sentencing is scheduled for May 30.

The Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division (HCFD) handled this case for the Department. The HCFD is the federally certified Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for Michigan, and it receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling $5,541,992 for the fiscal year 2024. The remaining 25 percent, totaling $1,847,326 is funded by the State of Michigan.