O’Fallon woman admits healthcare fraud; was on cruise at times she billed for services

An O’Fallon woman accused of falsely billing the government for home healthcare services she claimed to have performed even though she was out of the country pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday.

According to Southern Illinois U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton’s office, Ann Marie Sheppard, 54, admitted to billing the government for more than 2,800 hours of service to a customer between June 30, 2013 and April 30, 2015, even though investigators learned she spent 11 days out of the country, four days on an ocean cruise and several other days away from the patient she claimed she was caring for during that time.

Sheppard illegally collected $34,168.33 in payments for services she did not provide. Her work was part of a Medicaid waiver program that allows patients to receive care from caregivers at home rather than entering a nursing home.

Sentencing for Sheppard is set for Feb. 10, 2016. She faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of probation.