WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Federal authorities accused a licensed therapist of billing millions of dollars in a healthcare fraud scheme.
45-year-old Maria Kokolis entered a plea of not guilty in federal court Friday.
The Williamsburg Wellness Center owner and licensed counselor is accused of defrauding over $2 million during a two-year period.
Prosecutors accuse her of billing for face-to-face services at times when she was out of the country or when clients were sick or out of state. They say on 332 separate occasions, she allegedly billed for services that exceeded 24 hours in a single day.
According to the indictment, Kokolis owned and operated Pamisage, Inc., a center for integrative behavioral health and medicine, with a focus on weight management issues.
“The defendant allegedly defrauded health care programs and the government by submitting false claims and engaging in multiple overbilling schemes,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “EDVA remains committed to holding accountable anyone who undermines the integrity of our health care system, including the Virginia Medicaid program, which is designed to subsidize critical health care coverage for those who need it most.”
Dr. Sarah Williams is not connected to this case, but she is a licensed psychotherapist and runs her own practice called Covenant Way Wellness.
“It is unethical, it is immoral, it is against our professional standards. It’s fraud,” Williams said.
She says billing can be complicated and said some healthcare professionals don’t feel that they are correctly reimbursed for their services, but said she takes pride in running a transparent and honest practice.
She believes there is a lot of fraud happening right now.
“I would like to see more attention because it makes it difficult for everyone. If you have someone that commits fraud, a professional that's committing fraud, it makes it difficult for those of us that are running an ethical practice, that are performing ethical billing practices, Williams said.
The FBI says health care fraud is not a victimless crime, because it affects everyone—individuals and businesses alike—and causes tens of billions of dollars in losses each year.
We reached out to Kokolis’s attorneys Larry Woodward and Emily Munn, who said they don’t have a comment about the case.
Kokolis is charged with health care fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Her trial is scheduled for January 25, 2022.