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The Associated Press April 22, 2010, 4:10PM ET

Feds investigate W.Va. home-health care provider

Federal prosecutors are seeking to freeze the assets of an in-home health care provider for elderly and disabled people, after West Virginia background checks found many workers with criminal histories, including convicted felons.

No criminal charges have been filed against Golden Heart In Home Care LLC of St. Albans. A civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston alleges the company hired convicted felons, failed to do background checks and properly train employees, improperly paid them and billed for services it never provided.

The complaint also names owner Shida S. Jamie and her son, James S. "Jimmy" Jamie. They didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.

Golden Heart is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and federal prosecutors.

In an affidavit unsealed this week supporting the lawsuit, DHHS special agent Mary Ann Withrow said the investigation uncovered evidence that Golden Heart and the Jamies "have committed federal health care offenses," including seeking payment from Medicaid for services provided by workers with inadequate training, no valid driver's licenses and serious criminal records.

Applicants seeking employment as in-home care providers are required to undergo criminal background checks and must have a minimum of 32 hours of training within the first year of employment.

The state's Medicaid program paid Golden Heart $2.3 million for worker services and $357,000 for transportation services from October 2006 through February 2010.

The affidavit said state Medicaid officials were notified last summer that Golden Heart was billing for services it never provided. In one case, it alleged, a patient died in May 2009 but Golden Heart billed for services to the patient in August, September and November 2009.

In the following months the state Bureau of Senior Services received numerous complaints about Golden Heart, including some from employees who said they were asked to falsify their training records, the affidavit said.

Golden Heart has other offices in Clay and Montgomery. The affidavit said state-performed background checks on about 420 employees found that 127, or 30 percent, had criminal histories. Eight had convictions that should have precluded them from being employed as in-home care providers, or homemakers.

Six were convicted felons on probation, including one who was a registered sex offender whose lengthy history included convictions for domestic battery, indecent exposure and fleeing a police officer. However, he doesn't appear on any state Bureau of Employment Programs wage reports submitted by Golden Heart.

"It is likely that additional disqualified homemakers will be identified as the investigation progresses," the affidavit said.

Wage reports submitted to the Bureau of Employment Programs for Jimmy Jamie showed he had $7,500 in wages for 2007 and 2008. Yet his Facebook page showed photos of himself and multiple vehicles, including four Mercedes Benz sedans and a Porsche convertible. In an album titled "My new home IN Cleveland," he posted photos of a luxury condominium.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston.

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