The owner of a Buckhead-based home healthcare company has pleaded guilty to fraud in a case involving false Medicaid claims.

Atlanta resident Diandra Bankhead, 42, who owns and operates Elite Homecare, has pleaded guilty to defrauding Medicaid by submitting thousands of fraudulent claims for services that were never provided to medically fragile children under the Georgia Pediatric Program (GAPP).

“Bankhead exploited Medicaid-eligible children who suffer from significant physical and cognitive disabilities,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in a news release. “Her fraud included billing for services never performed and for children never seen. Georgians dependent on these types of services deserve our best, not to be used by someone who is looking to enrich themselves at their expense.”

According to Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: GAPP is an in-home nursing program designed to serve Medicaid-eligible children under 21 based on a medical necessity. The program offers in-home skilled nursing services for medically fragile children who require nursing services, and personal care services, including feeding, bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, preparation of meal and assisting with the mobility and ambulation of members.

Medically fragile children who are eligible for services under GAPP typically suffer from significant physical and cognitive disabilities, including autism, blindness, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, epileptic seizures and/or paralysis.

Bankhead’s scheme began around September 2015 and continued until April 2018. Over that time, Elite submitted more than 5,400 claims to Georgia Medicaid — the vast majority of which were fraudulent — and for which Elite received $1.2 million.

Bankhead pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 28 at 10 a.m., before Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash.

This case is being investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Georgia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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