SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Maria Navarro Martin and Judith Benech faced a Seminole County judge Wednesday after being arrested for cheating Medicaid out of $4.6 million.The two ran a school specially designed for children and routinely billed Medicaid for the services they provided the families. One of those families noticed an irregularity in the billing when it reviewed its explanation of benefits from the government. While their child had only been at the Angels Center for Autism for about a month, the documents showed that the school had charged Medicaid more than $8,000.
This disclosure prompted an investigation of the school by the Florida Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and investigators found that the two filed numerous allegedly false claims for services between Oct. 7, 2015 and Jan. 8, 2017.
With the arrests of Martin and Benech, the school was closed, leaving a number of families in the lurch. Families received no phone calls or email messages. They were greeted when they arrived at the school by a “closed” sign on the door.
Martin is the center’s owner and Benech is the officer manager. They were arrested Tuesday in Seminole County, where they live. The two bought nearly a dozen vehicles and several homes with the money they stole.
Both women are in jail under a $110,000 bond.