The Webster Groves agency fined her $1.8 million for overcharging and misrepresenting child care

ST. LOUIS – A Webster Groves-based nonprofit that provides services to distressed youth and foster children in Missouri will be fined $1.8 million after making false claims about the services it provides.

Great Circle approved a number of compliance measures on Friday. Federal officials say the agency made false statements and overbilled the state for services to young people at its inpatient treatment facility.

“Great Circle erroneously filed bills for services it failed to provide but were needed by the children,” FBI St. Louis Division Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg said. “Putting profit over safety can put already vulnerable children at risk.”

“In this non-prosecution agreement, Great Circle admits to falsely alleging that it provided enhanced care to juveniles at its inpatient treatment facility for payment claims to the State of Missouri,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney Meredith Reiter, who leads the team that worked has on case. “A cascade of problems can result from inadequate monitoring, particularly in children with such intense treatment and support needs.”

Reiter said Great Circle will not be prosecuted and will continue to operate because it cooperated with the investigation and so as not to jeopardize its clients’ access to inpatient treatment services.

Great Circle provides behavioral health services for children with special needs under the care of the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division. As part of the deal, Great Circle admitted to falsely claiming to have provided expanded services to six residents between 2019 and 2020.

Great Circle has also agreed to implement a compliance and ethics program and to enhance internal controls, compliance, policies and procedures.

“These agreements hold Great Circle accountable by requiring it to admit false billing and pay a civil claim settlement without jeopardizing continued access to inpatient treatment services for children in the Missouri nursing program,” said Reiter.

The agreement came after a multi-year investigation involving federal, state, Webster Groves and Phelps County officials. Kansas City-based KVC Missouri will acquire Great Circle on April 1.

Great Circle has provided FOX 2 with the following statement regarding the latest developments:

“Over the past few years, Great Circle has worked closely with the government as they conducted a comprehensive review of thousands of accounting records related to our childcare work on behalf of the State of Missouri. The review covered a five-year period from December 11, 2017 to December 31, 2021. Great Circle provided staff and records to assist the government in its review.

As a result of this extensive process, Great Circle has accepted responsibility for wrongfully seeking payment totaling $5,431.75 for services provided to six clients and paying $1,866,000 to compensate for delay, inconvenience and costs to avoid lengthy litigation. Great Circle has not pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of a felony and has admitted no liability beyond demanding payment for those six customers. For reference, in the same five-year period, Great Circle has provided more than $351,000,000 in services to over 74,000 clients from nearly 20 facilities throughout Missouri and eastern Kansas.

Contrary to the government’s public statements, Great Circle did not admit to having cheated anyone. These agreements do not include allegations of child abuse or neglect.

Great Circle’s top priority is always the health and safety of the children it serves. Great Circle has extensive policies and procedures in place to guide the treatment of our customers and takes prompt action when violations become known, including notifying the Department of Social Services, Children’s Division of all critical incidents involving children.

Great Circle appreciates the thorough and professional manner in which the Government has worked with us to resolve these issues. Now that this matter has been fully addressed, we look forward to continuing our focus on meeting the needs of the thousands of children and families we serve every day.” The Webster Groves agency fined her $1.8 million for overcharging and misrepresenting child care

Sarah Y. Kim

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