The Attorney General’s Office announced that the Caledonia Criminal Division found probable cause for felony Medicaid Fraud charges committed by Debra Stewart, 62, of Newark, Vermont, and her son, Andrew Lavelle, 31. Ms. Stewart was arraigned today on two counts of Medicaid Fraud, while the court issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Lavelle. The charges brought against both Ms. Stewart and Mr. Lavelle are the result of an investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit.
Ms. Stewart was a contracted shared living provider for two vulnerable adults under Vermont Medicaid’s Developmental Services Waiver program. It is alleged that Ms. Stewart, in her role as employer, hired her son, Mr. Lavelle, as a respite provider and signed timesheets asserting that the vulnerable adults in her care received services from Mr. Lavelle when, in fact, Mr. Lavelle had not provided those services. The State alleges that Mr. Lavelle received over $4,000 based on those false timesheets.
Ms. Stewart pleaded not guilty at her arraignment in Vermont Superior Court, Caledonia Criminal Division. The Court, Judge Justin Jiron presiding, ordered conditions of release which prohibit Ms. Stewart from providing care for any vulnerable adult without first receiving approval by the court.
Medicaid Fraud holds the potential for a maximum of ten years of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000 or an amount equal to twice the amount of payments wrongfully obtained or both.
The Attorney General’s Office emphasizes that individuals charged with a crime are legally presumed innocent until their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling $1,057,724 for Federal fiscal year FY 2022. The remaining 25 percent, totaling $352,575 for FY 2022, is funded by the State of Vermont.
Contact: Lauren Jandl, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171