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Therapist gets 15-month sentence for fraud

July 30, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

A Berkeley Springs, W.Va., woman who ran a Hancock therapy center blew a kiss to her family members and was led away by deputies Tuesday after she was sentenced to serve 15 months in jail on fraud charges.

Barbara Andreadis, 58, pleaded guilty in May to one count each of Medicaid fraud and insurance fraud.

The charges were filed by the Maryland Attorney General's Office in April.

Prosecutors said Andreadis, a psychotherapist, began defrauding insurance providers in 1999 and falsified information on more than 5,000 bills submitted for insurance reimbursement. She was the director of Crossroads Behavior Therapy Center in Hancock.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley ordered Andreadis to serve concurrent sentences of 15 months at the Washington County Detention Center.

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Beachley authorized her to participate in the work-release program to help pay off the $85,000 she must pay to the state Medicaid program, as well as another $17,100 she owes private insurers.

Andreadis' lawyer and family members told Beachley that Andreadis is a woman whose life was fraught with difficulty early on. But nevertheless, they said Andreadis was a good mother.

Andreadis made a tearful apology, and while she said she took responsibility for the fraudulent insurance claims, she did not explain why she took the money.

"The why is not important. It's over. What's important is that I take responsibility," Andreadis said.

She said that while the Attorney General's Office claimed she spent thousands of dollars on vacations and other personal expenses, "I don't live lavishly, but nonetheless, I have done wrong."

She said she owed $26,000 in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, and was in the process of giving up her licenses to practice in social work in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.

Andreadis said she found a new job, which she didn't specify, but it paid only $14 an hour, less than a quarter of what she was making before.

Before handing down his sentence, Beachley told Andreadis that while she had not committed any crimes of violence, as a licensed professional, she violated the public trust.

"You simply can't take money inappropriately and expect to walk away," Beachley said.

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