DHH accountant pleads guilty to stealing $1M
BATON ROUGE- A former Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals accountant pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1 million from the state's Medicaid program to support a gambling addiction and will serve five years in jail, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announced Thursday.
Deborah Crowder Loper, 47, pleaded guilty in the 19th Judicial District Court to one count of felony theft by fraud and malfeasance in office for intentionally using her position of public trust to defraud DHH by taking public funds for personal use, most of which was spent at local casinos according to Caldwell.
Authorities arrested Loper in July 2013 after a joint investigation discovered she deposited more than 130 checks written out to DHH that totaled $1,018,423.32 into a bank account she controlled from March 2007 through January 2013.
Investigators said while Loper was an accountant administrator within DHH's Division of Fiscal Management, she was in charge of managing a bank account associated with the National Association of State Human Services Financial Officers created to aid the NASHSFO's 2009 conference held in New Orleans. Loper was told to close out the account after the conference by her supervisor, but instead lied on documents that made the account appear closed, Caldwell said.
Investigators said Loper changed the address on the bank account to her home so would get all notices for the account, including monthly transaction statements. Detectives said the source of the money was Medicaid reimbursements issued to DHH by licensed Medicaid providers that was supposed to be returned to the State's Medicaid program.
Loper agreed to pay $1,018,424 back to the State of Louisiana and will receive a 10-year prison sentence with five years suspended and five years of active supervised probation.