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The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday its receipt of a California Department of Insurance grant to investigate and prosecute disability and healthcare fraud.

According to a release, the funding allows the DA’s office to launch a vertical prosecution team specifically directed at this specialized and complicated area of law. The funding will support the salaries for a senior prosecutor and an investigator to work closely with CDI, the California Medical Board, the state Department of Justice, the Employment Development Department and the state Department of Health Services.

The team’s purpose will be to investigate and prosecute cases including the use of another person’s identity to secure healthcare benefits, embezzlement, unlawful solicitations/referrals, fraudulent billing, inflated or falsified pharmacy billings, prescription fraud and abuse, out-patient surgery center fraud and fraudulent disability claims.

Deputy DA Amy Patterson has been selected as the vertical prosecutor for the Disability and Healthcare Fraud unit. She has prosecuted domestic violence, sexual assault and general felony crimes, including fraud cases, since 2006. As part of her new assignment, Patterson will develop an outreach program providing education to inform the public, medical providers, insurance companies and law enforcement agencies about fraud prevention.

An investigator will also be assigned to the unit in the near future.

California takes fraud cases seriously with extended statute of limitations and maximum prison sentences of five years plus substantial fines for various types of medical fraud.