How much PCA fraud is there?

Minnesota’s $1 billion/year personal care assistant (PCA) program has been making headlines recently, and not for good reasons. State Attorney General Keith Ellison charged 18 individuals in an alleged scheme involving a Minneapolis PCA agency this past month.

The ever-alert Lou Raguse of KARE-11 happened upon a separate PCA investigation underway in state court this week, with an interesting backstory.

Abdirashid Said of Fridley pled guilty to one charge of theft by swindle in November 2021. He was accused of using his company, Ultimate Healthcare LLC, to defraud the state Medicaid program by claiming payments for two PCA’s who did not perform the claimed work. Ultimate is no longer active.

He was sentenced in January 2022 to one year in jail (suspended) and two years of probation. The original charge filed against him in June 2021 documents that Universal took more than $77,500 out of the Medicaid program, an amount Said later agreed to return in restitution. He has paid the amount in full.

Said was originally charged with two felonies and pled down to a single gross misdemeanor.

Earlier, in February 2020, according to court records, Ultimate was sued for defaulting on a business loan. Ultimate was able to pay off the judgement in the case by January 2021.

Said is back in court, accused in March of this year of resuming work for Medicaid-related companies, in alleged violation of his probation terms. He and his attorney deny any violations have occurred. Raguse reports that, at a court hearing this week, it was revealed,

Dozens of checks, totaling well over $100,000, were all written over the last 18 months from companies under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office for suspected Medicaid fraud–to Abdirashid Said–-even though he had already been ordered by a judge to no longer receive Medicaid payments after he was convicted of theft by swindle early last year.

Courts transcripts reveal that, in addition to the dozens of checks, the state alleges that Said received a Mercedes Benz from one PCA provider. Raguse adds that,

The lead investigator testified that they have executed 50 search warrants over the last year, including at 11 different companies that paid Said for “consulting services.” 

Several of those companies operated out of the same nondescript building on Central Avenue in Minneapolis.

Said’s former company was located at an office on the 2500 block of Central Ave. NE in Minneapolis. That Central Avenue address happens to host (in separate office suites) five different, active PCA agencies, according to state Dept. of Human Services (DHS) records.

Those active PCA businesses appear unrelated to the Said case. Court transcripts reveal that the AG is investigating two other PCA businesses at that address, who are no longer active.

To repeat: Said and his attorney deny the new allegations. But the allegations do hint that the AG’s office is investigating PCA fraud that goes well beyond the network unveiled late last month.

Said is due back in court on the probation charge on October 17.