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Va. couple who established counseling group sentenced for healthcare fraud

FILE

DILLWYN, Va. (WSET) -- A husband and wife have been sentenced after they defrauded the Virginia Medicaid program.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced Thursday that Dennis Gowin, 67, of Dillwyn was sentenced to 12 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised released. Gowin was also ordered to pay $210,593 in restitution and a fine of $5,500.

According to the attorney general, Gowin previously pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud, once count of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable healthcare information, and one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

His wife, Cheryl Gowin, 65, also of Dillwyn, was sentenced to three years of probation with the first six months on house arrest, three years of supervised released, and ordered to pay $210, 593 in requisition and a $2,000 fine.

The Department of Justice said she previously pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud and one count of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable healthcare information.

"We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners, including the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, to prosecute those who exploit our health-care system and, in so doing, violate the public’s trust.” U.S. Attorney Cullen said.

According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Huber, from May 2013 through February 2016, Dennis Gowin was a director of Hope for Tomorrow Counseling, an outreach program that provided mental health counseling to children, adolescents, adults, and families throughout the Commonwealth. Cheryl Gowin was likewise employed by Hope for Tomorrow as a Resident-in-Counseling (i.e. counselor in training).

In addition, Dennis Gowin was the Executive Director of Discovery Counseling-Virginia, a counseling group established by the cpuple.

The investigation showed that the conviction resulted from Dennis and Cheryl Gowins’ failure to disclose Dennis’ previous felony conviction on multiple applications related to employment, enrollment, and credentialing with several employers and healthcare entities.

False statements allowed Dennis Gowin to become a a Licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia, obtain employment and for the Gowins to receive payment for health insurance providers, including Virginia Medicaid.

The conviction for wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable healthcare information resulted from the Gowins’ removal of over 100 patient files from Hope for Tomorrow without permission from Hope for Tomorrow or the individual patients.

The files were returned to Hope for Tomorrow after being discovered during the execution of a federal search warrant at the Gowins’ residence.

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