Psychiatrist from Bellmawr Admits Signing Phony Medical Records to Deceive State Inspector

The psychiatrist of a nonprofit mental health services provider for Camden’s poorest residents today admitted signing fraudulent treatment plans meant to mislead New Jersey Medicaid inspectors, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Officials said Lyda Monte, 78, of Bellmawr, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court to an information charging her with making false statements to a health care benefit program.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:   Monte was a psychiatrist at Nueva Vida Behavioral Health Center of New Jersey, a nonprofit provider of mental health services to the Camden Hispanic community. Most of Nueva Vida’s patients were Medicaid beneficiaries and the center was periodically inspected and audited by New Jersey Medicaid authorities. 

According to authorities, Between January 2010 and August 2016, Cesar Tavera, the Executive Director of Nueva Vida, directed Nueva Vida therapists to prepare false treatment plans, including plans reflecting treatment that was not actually performed on patients, in order to mislead New Jersey Medicaid inspectors. Tavera then directed Monte to sign these fabricated treatment plans.

Officials said today Monte admitted that she signed the treatment plans knowing that they were fraudulent and that they were intended to mislead New Jersey Medicaid inspectors. Monte faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offenses.

The sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 28, 2018.

According to authorities, Cesar Tavera previously pleaded guilty to defrauding New Jersey Medicaid out of $2.5 million and embezzling more than $1.5 million from Nueva Vida. He was sentenced to 70 months in prison. Maria Tavera, a Nueva Vida administrator, pleaded guilty to embezzling from Nueva Vida and was sentenced to six months of home detention and three years of probation. Andres Ayala, a Nueva Vida therapist, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and awaits sentencing.