Connecticut Woman Pleads Guilty to Fraud While Awaiting Sentencing for Similar Charge

A Connecticut woman convicted of health care fraud has admitted that she committed similar acts of fraud as she was awaiting sentencing.

Nichole Steiner, 32, operated Helping Hands Academy in Bridgeport, a facility that served as a Connecticut Medicaid Program (CMP). The business provided behavioral analysis services for autistic children.

Steiner pleaded guilty in a Connecticut federal court in April 2021 to charges that she falsely told the government that the program had administered services to some clients. As a result, she knowingly billed for services that were not in fact provided.

She also made false statements and filed altered documents with the Connecticut Department of Social Services. That occurred after the state agency revoked Helping Hands Academy’s status as a CMP provider. Steiner reportedly hoped to obtain payment for claims that were submitted before the termination of her facility’s approved status.

Jessica Stuart, a former Helping Hands Academy employee, was sentenced in federal court last October to a two-year prison term. She had been charged with fraudulently presenting herself as a board-certified behavior analyst. In fact, she was not certified and lacked a college degree, a medical license, or any formal professional training.

The Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s office alleged that Stuart fraudulently facilitated Medicaid claims totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Federal prosecutors also alleged that Steiner had fraudulently cost the CMP more than $500,000.

Steiner was arrested on new charges in May when she was out on bond and awaiting sentencing. She eventually pleaded guilty last week to fraudulently billing CMP for thousands of dollars in additional claims.

After her first guilty plea, Steiner provided services fraudulently as a “silent partner” for another company, New Beginnings Children’s Behavioral Health. Those acts of fraud occurred after her first plea and conviction.

The new charges could net Steiner an additional sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney. She is now under electronically monitored house arrest on a $250,000 bond. Her sentencing hearing is now scheduled for October 21. She will reportedly now be sentenced on both convictions at the same hearing.