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Massachusetts Sues Mental Health Company for Fraud

Christine Martino-Fleming wasn't going to take it anymore. So she filed a whistleblower suit against her former employer.

That prompted the Massachusetts attorney general to take a long look at South Bay Mental Health Center. AG Maura Healey concluded the business was fraudulently billing the state for "unlicensed, unqualified and unsupervised" services.

It goes to show that sometimes you should bite the hand that feeds you. And when a company serves 50,000 people, that's a lot of bites.

"Unlicensed, Unqualified and Unsupervised"

South Bay Mental Health Center has 17 centers across Massachusetts, and has billed the state more than $123 million for outpatient services since 2009. The attorney general alleges that a significant number of those services were provided by unlicensed and unqualified workers.

The government lawsuit alleges that many performed work as social workers or mental health counselors, but they had no education or training in the fields.

In her whistleblower case, Martino-Fleming said she was responsible for training clinicians and examining the qualifications of clinicians and supervisors. Many clinic directors had no licenses at all, she said.

The attorney general said the company did nothing about it, but she will. The lawsuit seeks treble damages, penalties, and interest.

"Money Over Profits"

"Instead of preventing or correcting the deficiencies outlined in this Complaint, the Defendants prioritized money and profits over compliance with the regulations intended to ensure that MassHealth members received the proper, vital services to which they were entitled," the attorney general alleged.

The complaint names the mental health center, its founder Peter Scanlon, and Kevin Sheehan of Community Intervention Services, which purchased the center in 2012. Also named are several other businesses that were part of the acquisition.

On its website, the company says it was formed to consolidate "platform" companies to serve a broad base of clients. It provides mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities services. It also offers offers outpatient care, including elderly treatment programs, crisis intervention, and other services.

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