“Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.”
As a mother of three children, a daughter, a wife, and taxpaying citizen, I write this to express remorse for the bad decisions that I made. I realize how my actions victimized a system designed to provide for the welfare of all citizens. I am ashamed. I am sorry. I regret what I have done.
Obviously, I know and understand that I cannot offer excuses to justify any violations of the law. Laws hold our society together. Every citizen has responsibilities and duties to observe and live in accordance with the rules. I never intended to live as a “rule breaker.” The irony is not lost on me that in my advocacy for special-needs-children, I’ve pushed others to abide by rules and policies. Yet in this instance, I failed to set a good example for my children. In this instance, I am guilty of violating the law and I am both humiliated and remorseful.
Although I cannot offer excuses, I would like you to know more about me as a human being. Things I typically hold private, yet influences that led me into this predicament. They do not excuse my behavior. And I understand that my explanations do not go far enough in recompensing the victim of my crime, the US Government.
In order to ask for forgiveness, I feel compelled to explain more about my background and what I learned from this experience. I want you to know how I am striving to make things right and why I will never put myself in a situation that could result in criminal charges again.
To help you understand how I got here, I need to begin with my background.
My parents did not have a great relationship. They got together in College and I was born in July of 1977. By the time I turned three, my parents divorced on account of my father’s having an affair. He went on to build a successful career as an Insurance entrepreneur in Oklahoma and Texas while my mom and I lived in Maryland.
It was not easy for my mom to rear me alone and I could tell that she felt a lot of stress. She never rebounded from my father’s infidelity or the divorce and I felt that as if she took her anger out on me. Both physical and verbal abuse were routine during my childhood. My difficult childhood has influenced the way that I mother my own children, as I want to surround them with love and support.
When I was 10, my paternal grandfather sexually molested me. That experience resulted in my having to proceed through the judicial system, meet with attorneys, and testify against him in court. It was a bad experience that left many scars on me. My grandfather died in prison and my father at the time, blamed me for putting him there.
Those experiences made my childhood quite difficult, and my adolescence wasn’t too much better. I did okay in school and in 1995 I graduated from Seneca Valley High School in Maryland. My hopes were to continue my education and become a nurse. That is all I ever wanted to do.
Unfortunately, childhood experiences did not bring great critical-thinking skills. I wanted to escape, to find something better. My boyfriend from high school and I had dreams. At 18, I got pregnant with my first daughter and gave birth to her in June of 1996. When I was 6 months pregnant my boyfriend and I broke up. We got back together when our daughter was born but that was short lived and six months later, he went on to live his life, leaving me with the responsibility of raising my infant daughter alone.
For two years, I juggled the responsibility of childcare with my quest to continue my education. While attending Community College, I met a man and we married in 1999. He joined the Coast Guard, so we married quickly without much planning or preparation. In retrospect, we were not ready for the responsibilities. I suspended my pursuit of an education so that I could move to South Carolina for his career with the Coast Guard. For the next few years, I lived in military housing, mostly alone because he would stay out at sea for three months at a time.
In June of 2000, I gave birth to my second child, a son, and I struggled with Post-Partum depression. I felt depressed and would lie for hours in the fetal position, sad with all that had gone wrong with my life. Doctors recognized that I had Post-partum depression and prescribed medication so that I could function more normally. Since I have struggled off and on with anxiety and minor depression. We moved to Rhode Island because my husband got stationed there in 2000 right after our son was born. I was a stay at home mom and ran a licensed daycare watching Military Children. We struggled on his E-3-E-5 income so I did what I needed to do so I could be home with my children. I also took online classes through the Community College of Rhode Island. Once 9/11 happened things went downhill. The realization of the situation and how quickly life can be taken, the impact on America and devastation, and then my husband was gone the minute it occurred. The lack of structure and stability led to a divorce, and in 2004 I returned home to live with my mom in Fredericksburg, Virginia. At 26, I was the single mother of two children under the age 7.
With support of living at home, I tried to resume my pursuit of nursing school, having gone to the Community College out of High School and while married I had all my pre requisites finished. I went to Germanna Community College and got into the competitive Nursing Program. This was so exciting because thousands applied and only 56 at a time were accepted. Despite earning a 3.3 GPA, and accumulating a lot of student loan debt, I had to drop out from the nursing program. Responsibilities of childcare and having to work to pay the bills would not allow me to fulfill demands of clinical rotations for nursing school. I would have had to stop working and have flexibility of doing rotations at random and selected times. I did not have that kind of support from my mother because she too worked and I had bills.
A brief relationship with another man resulted in my unexpected pregnancy and I gave birth to my third child, in August of 2005. He made it clear that he did not want the responsibilities of fatherhood.
Not knowing how I fit into the world, or what I would do with my life, I worked to continue my education with online studies. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2005, and in 2007, I received my Master’s degree Specializing in Management. I even went on further and received all of my credits but 3 in Educational Leadership and Behavior Modification. With academic credentials, I aspired to live as a responsible and contributing citizen.
My early decisions led to enormous challenges during my 20’s. They were a very difficult time for me, and they became much more complicated with the birth of my 3rd child. Three months into her infancy, doctors diagnosed her with viral meningitis and admitted her into the hospital. To treat her, they pumped many drugs into her young body. By the time she was four months old, I could see from her behavior that she suffered from severely complicated health issues. She was always sick and in and out of the doctors and hospital for the first year and a half of her life.
Since moving back to Virginia, I earned a living by providing licensed daycare services. At first, I cared for my children and a few others. Later, I took on more children and had up to 12 children. One of the children I cared for was Autistic, which made me familiar with the symptoms and traits of Autism. I could see many of those symptoms and traits in my daughter, and in time, doctors diagnosed her as being Autistic. This was after me going to many doctors trying and begging them to tell me what was wrong with my baby. As a mother, this is a horrible feeling of knowing something was wrong, but not knowing the diagnosis or what steps I could take to improve my daughter’s life.
As a single mom of three children, one with special needs, I was grateful for an opportunity to earn a living by providing childcare services. I love kids. it was one of the few opportunities that would allow me to work from home, to be there when my children needed me, and to complete my online studies. Obviously, caring for up to 12 children, plus my three children, required full attention. Besides career duties, motherhood, and schooling, I needed to research everything possible to learn about Autism so that I could advocate for my daughter. She needed me to fight on her behalf, to get every benefit that was needed and appropriate for her.
In an effort to care for my child, I applied to social services with a request for additional support. Her diagnosis authorized her to receive a waiver which allowed me to hire a caregiver or caregivers, and Medicaid compensated her caregivers at $11.47 per hour. As the responsible party, I was required to sign the timesheets for each caregiver. Medicaid provided those caregivers for her. Since I had two other children, and a Childcare requiring care for 12 other children, there was no shortage of work. My childcare paid $8.50 for caregiver assistance.
I made a bad decision. The caregivers that I employed were supposed to be for my daughter only. When they tended to her, Medicaid would pay a higher rate than my childcare could afford to pay for help with the other children, I signed timesheets verifying that they were caring for her rather than the other children, as they wanted the higher rate. Both the caregivers and I knew that the caregivers were caring for all of the children in my house.
I wrongly authorized Medicare expenditures that I knew to be false. In so doing, I victimized the Medicare system by causing higher expenditures. Further, my childcare received an unfair benefit by not having to pay out of pocket. These actions violated the law, and I am truly sorry for what I have done.
In December 2011, I married my current husband. Our relationship began with complications, as he had children from a previous marriage that needed his attention.
In October 2012, I began to suffer from chronic back pain after I tripped and fell down a flight of stairs. Doctors prescribed Percocet, Tramadol, and Motrin 800 to treat the severe sciatica pain. The pain was intense, and to cope, medication seemed to be the only temporary relief. Later, an MRI test revealed that I had two bulging discs on my sciatic nerve. To treat the problem, I went through back surgery to remove the disc from my nerve in November 2013, but I’ve never fully recovered - you never do with back surgery.
Then, on June 9, 2015, my life almost ended with another tragic accident. While I walked across a street, a truck struck and crashed into me- - yes, I was walking. It threw me 20 feet in the air. The collision severed and decapitated the bones in my arm. It broke my pelvis, my sacrum, many other bones, tore my MCL at 80% and tore other ligaments that required hospitalization for over three weeks. A mild TBI (brain injury), resulted. I lost my short-term memory for several months and now suffer complications that include loss of focus, insomnia, and anxiety. These complications will be with me for the rest of my life.
Personal Challenges and Remorse
I am remorseful for what I have done. Although I am a parent that advocates fiercely for the needs of children, I should not have signed timesheets for caregivers when they were not tending to my daughter’s needs, I was. My actions resulted in losses for the Medicare system, and I’m doing everything within my power to repay those losses.
Fortunately, I’ve built a business as a health coach and educator for women who want to get healthy, feel alive again, and tackle emotional eating. I have also become effective at advocating and learning laws and policies that allow parents to get what is needed and appropriate in the educational system for their children.
Although I plead guilty to Health Care Fraud and Theft of Government funds, I hope that you will see the goodness of my character despite what these charges reveal. I was sentenced to 24 months at Alderson Prison Camp.
“What got you here won’t get you there.”
In serving time, I have learned, I believe, the most valuable lessons in life ever.
1. To be Humble.
2. To have Faith.
3. To have Gratitude.
I believe I am returning as a better person who sees life differently and with less judgment. Someone who has a whole lot more to give this world and serve others.
Yours in health,
P.S. I had to let fake news fueled by social media, be just that. It is embarrassing for the sloppy outlets who have chosen to write such incorrect information. However, I care, so I had to write Raven’s story.