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November 20--  SCHELLA LOGAN HOPE, 47, of Brunswick, Georgia, was convicted earlier this month by a federal jury of various health care fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering offenses for her role in a $4 million scheme upon the Georgia Medicaid program.  Chief United States District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood presided over HOPE’s 5-day jury trial.

             According to evidence presented during the trial, HOPE was a licensed dietician who ran a business located in Brunswick, Georgia, known as Hope Nutritional Services.  From 2005 through 2011, HOPE stole the identities of thousands of needy children between the ages of 0 and 5 that were enrolled in Head Start programs located throughout the state of Georgia.  Once HOPE obtained the identities of these children, HOPE fabricated patient files, falsified prescriptions from doctors, and submitted $4 million worth of claims to Medicaid for nutritional services that were not provided.  HOPE then used the money she stole from Medicaid to pay for luxury automobiles, designer clothing, and vacations, among other things.

            Coconspirator Arlene Murrell pled guilty before HOPE’s trial to her role in the scheme.  Murrell testified against HOPE at trial, and detailed how she helped HOPE commit the fraud.

            HOPE was convicted of 58 counts of Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud; Health Care Fraud; Aggravated Identity Theft; and Money Laundering.  Upon her convictions for these offenses, Chief Judge Wood remanded HOPE to the custody of the United States Marshals pending sentencing in the case.

At sentencing, HOPE faces 10 years in prison for each of the 17 health care fraud offenses; 20 years in prison for the various money laundering offenses; and 2 years consecutive prison sentences for each of the various aggravated identity theft offenses.  HOPE also faces up to 3 years of supervised release, and may be ordered to pay restitution to the victims in this case.