Connecticut Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist Gets 3 Years In Prison For Fraud


As Autism Speaks informs us, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy based on the science of learning and behavior. ABA helps us to understand how behavior works, how behavior is affected by the environment and how learning takes place. ABA therapy programs can help increase language and communication skills; improve attention, focus, social skills, memory and academics; and decrease problem behaviours.


ABA can be adapted to meet the needs of each unique person. It teaches skills that are useful in everyday life. Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Helping Hands Academy, LLC provides applied behavior analysis services to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Its owner, Nicole Steiner has just received a three-year prison term for health care fraud offenses.


Steiner submitted false claims to Medicaid.


As reported by the District of Connecticut branch of the United States Department of Justice yesterday, Steiner submitted fraudulent claims to Medicaid. Between December 2018 and October 2020, she purported to provide applied behavior analysis services to Medicaid clients. As the owner of Helping Hands Academy, Steiner was a participating provider in the Connecticut Medicaid Program.


The 33 year-old submitted claims for dates of service when no applied behavior analysis services had been provided to the Medicaid clients identified in the claims. In addition, when Steiner did provide ABA services to the clients, she inflated the number of hours for certain claims. She also submitted false Medicaid claims in 2020 using a former employee’s name and performing provider number.


Helping Hands Academy has been terminated as a provider.


Understandably, Steiner’s actions have landed her company in hot water. The Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) administers the Medicaid program in Connecticut. They have terminated Helping Hands Academy as a provider. Following termination, Steiner made several false statements and submitted an altered document to DSS. It was all in an attempt to rescind the termination and to receive payment for previously submitted claims.


“Medicaid suffered a loss of more than $500,000 as a result of Steiner’s admitted conduct,” reports the DoJ, “On April 28, 2021, Steiner pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud related to this scheme.”


Steiner continued her illegal activity after her guilty plea.


Unfazed by her pending sentencing, Steiner continued to commit illegal offenses. After being released on bond, she worked as a silent partner for New Beginnings Children’s Behavioral Health, LLC. Like Helping Hands Academy, the company provides applied behavior analysis services to children diagnosed with ASD.


Steiner’s role made her responsible for billing claims to Medicaid, managing payroll and recruiting potential employees. The position gave her access to her business partner’s email and other online accounts to operate the company. She used them to engage in further health care fraud by billing Medicaid for thousands of dollars in services not rendered. In particular, she billed for services she did not render herself.


Steiner continued to commit fraud after her arrest.


“Steiner was arrested on May 2, 2022, and, on July 29, she pleaded guilty to a second count of health care fraud,” informs the DoJ report, “While released on bond and living in New Jersey awaiting sentencing in both cases, Steiner submitted false Medicaid applications indicating that she lived in Bridgeport in order to get Medicaid coverage for her and her children. Steiner was remanded to custody at the conclusion of the sentencing proceeding (and ordered) to pay $505,955.56 in total restitution.”


Are you an attorney who is currently working a health care fraud case? The clinical experts at Allegiant Experts can help you! Please don’t hesitate to call us today at 407-217-5831 to schedule a complimentary consultation. You may also email us at info@allegiantexperts.com.

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