FBI raids Juniata Community Mental Health Clinic

Posted: June 25, 2014

FBI agents raided a Fairhill mental health clinic Monday, two months after a former employee sued, claiming she was fired for questioning what she described as fraudulent Medicaid billing.

In April, Sheree Brown of Yeadon sued Juniata Community Mental Health Clinic, claiming its administrator, Sandy Acosta, and director, Carlos Matos, who is also a Democratic ward leader in Kensington, pushed her out of a job last year after she voiced her concerns.

Federal authorities would not say whether their search of the practice, at 2637 N. Fifth St., was tied to Brown's allegations. For more than five hours, agents carted boxes of records out of the office. No arrests were made.

Matos, son-in-law of City Commissioners Chairwoman Margaret Tartaglione and a bold-faced name in his own right in Kensington Hispanic politics, did not return calls seeking comment. Acosta also did not return calls for comment.

The clinic's attorney, Geoffrey Johnson, also refused to discuss Monday's raid. He has previously denied Brown's allegations and said Matos no longer worked at the clinic.

Matos and the Tartaglione family have a long history at the Juniata clinic and in neighborhood politics.

Matos was a leader of the 19th Ward for a decade before he was convicted in 2007 of bribing three Atlantic City councilmen. He served three years in prison and was released in 2010 under court-ordered supervision.

Though he immediately tried to return to his ward post, a federal judge barred him from doing so in 2011 for fear any involvement in politics might increase Matos' risk of re-offending.

At the time, Matos was a case manager at Juniata, according to court filings. His wife, former chief elections deputy Renee Tartaglione Matos, was Juniata's president at the time.

With his probation lifted last year, Matos jumped back into the political fray. He was reelected as a Democratic ward leader by the party's local committee members this year.

According to Brown's suit, Carlos Matos and Acosta hired her in June 2013 to analyze Juniata's rejected Medicaid billings in hope of improving the clinic's rate of acceptance.

She says her audits uncovered instances of Medicaid overbilling and improper charges for services performed by clinic employees without the proper licenses.

When Brown voiced her concerns to her bosses, they told her "it was not working out" and fired her in December, her suit contends.

During that same period Brown was working at the clinic, a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare audit cited Juniata for failing to conduct adequate criminal background checks on employees or carry out state-mandated audits to ensure patients were receiving appropriate treatments.

A subsequent review found the clinic had taken steps to address those infractions, according to inspection records.


jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-925-2649 @jeremyrroebuck

Inquirer staff writer Troy Graham contributed to this article.

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