Charlottesville, VIRGINIA – A husband and wife, who enriched themselves by defrauding the Virginia Medicaid program, were sentenced this week in U.S. District Court on federal health care fraud and related charges, United States Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced.
Dennis Gowin, 67, of Dillwyn, Va., was sentenced earlier this week to twelve months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $210,593, and a fine of $5,500. Gowin previously pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud, one count of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable healthcare information, and one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. Cheryl Gowin, 65, also of Dillwyn, was sentenced earlier this week to three years of probation with the first six-months on house arrest, three years of supervised release, ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $210,593, and a $2,000 fine. She previously pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud and one count of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable healthcare information.
“Health-care fraud, in its various forms, costs the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars every year and substantially reduces the quality of care for those who need it most,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today. “We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners, including the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, to prosecute those who exploit our health-care system and, in so doing, violate the public’s trust.”
“The Gowins defrauded taxpayers and families who trusted the couple to provide counseling and care to their loved ones,” Attorney General Herring said today. “We will continue to hold people like this to account when they break the law by lying, cheating, stealing from, or defrauding important healthcare programs.”
According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Huber, from May 2013 through February 2016, Dennis Gowin was a director of Hope for Tomorrow Counseling, an outreach program that provided mental health counseling to children, adolescents, adults, and families throughout the Commonwealth. Cheryl Gowin was likewise employed by Hope for Tomorrow as a Resident-in-Counseling (i.e. counselor in training). In addition, Dennis Gowin was the Executive Director of Discovery Counseling-Virginia, a counseling group established by the Gowins.
The healthcare fraud conviction resulted from Dennis and Cheryl Gowins’ failure to disclose Dennis’ previous felony conviction on multiple applications related to employment, enrollment, and credentialing with several employers and heath care entities. These false statements enabled Dennis Gowin to become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia, obtain employment and for the Gowins to receive payment for health insurance providers, including Virginia Medicaid. The conviction for wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable healthcare information resulted from the Gowins’ removal of over 100 patient files from Hope for Tomorrow without permission from Hope for Tomorrow or the individual patients. These files were returned to Hope for Tomorrow after being discovered during the execution of a federal search warrant at the Gowins’ residence.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Office of the Virginia Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Virginia State Police and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Huber prosecuted the case for the United States.