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Thomaston businesswoman accused of bilking state

By Stephen Betts | May 14, 2019

Augusta — A Thomaston woman whose businesses provided mental health services has been accused of bilking the state through massive over-billing.

Laurie Ryan, 51, the owner of Ocean Way Mental Health Agency and Ocean Way Manor, is charged with Class B aggravated forgery, Class B theft by deception, Class B forgery, Class C theft by deception, and Class C conspiracy to commit theft by deception.

The complaint was filed March 18 by the Maine Attorney General's Office. The criminal complaints allege that the scheme Ryan undertook started about Aug. 1, 2015, and continued through Sept. 18, 2016.

Ryan is scheduled to appear in court June 4 for a dispositional conference.

In addition to the criminal charges, there are several administrative matters pending concerning both Ocean Way agencies. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services sought $438,000 in reimbursement from Ocean Way Mental Health Services and $26,000 from Ocean Way Manor. After administration appeals, the amount now being sought by the state is $186,766 from Ocean Way Mental Health, and $25,615 from Ocean Way Manor.

Ryan could not be reached for comment. Her appointed attorney, Matthew Morgan, of Augusta, said she denies the allegations. He said he had no additional comment on the case, since he was newly appointed and had yet to receive the discovery gathered by the state.

She had operated a residential treatment home in Rockland, but closed that and sold the property on Granite Street last month. The status of her agency was not immediately available.

The case began in June 2016, when the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Program Integrity Unit conducted a site visit to Ocean Way after receiving complaints about bills Ocean Way had submitted.

DHHS notified Ocean Way in October 2016 that it was temporarily suspending Medicaid payments to the companies. In December 2016, DHHS notified both Ocean Way companies that it was terminating their MaineCare agreements.

Ryan, through her companies, filed a federal lawsuit in October 2017 against her insurance company -- Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. -- claiming it had failed to represent her in the claims made by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The companies have had to defend themselves without the insurer's participation and incurred substantial business losses, according to Ocean Way's lawsuit. Ocean Way wanted the federal court to order the insurer to pay legal fees and pay compensation for losses suffered while challenging DHHS.

In January 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker sided with the insurance company, ending the civil case brought by Ocean Way.

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