They shared photos on social media of their private jet, stacks of Tiffany & Co. boxes and a crystal decanter of Louis XIII cognac, often accompanied by the hashtags #jetsetter, #millionaire, #billionaire and #entrepreneur.
But prosecutors said that the lavish lifestyle that Latisha and Timothy Harron flaunted online was one that they could not afford and was attained through fraud.
On Wednesday, the Harrons were indicted in a yearslong Medicaid billing scheme in which the couple backbilled the program for $13 million in home health care services that they did not provide, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.
The Harrons, who live in Las Vegas, spent the money on real estate, exercise equipment, jewelry that included a $58,455 Tiffany ring and clothes from Brioni in Beverly Hills, the complaint said. The couple’s Aston Martin and wine collection were among the items that could be seized, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors said that the husband and wife combed through obituary listings in North Carolina to get the names of people who had recently died and then charged bogus services to those who had been eligible to receive Medicaid benefits in the state.
Robert J. Higdon Jr., the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said in a statement Wednesday that the scheme was one of the most brazen and egregious cases of Medicaid fraud that had taken place in his jurisdiction.
“The indictment alleges a $13 million fraud that funded a gluttonous, social media-marketed lifestyle — one filled with private jets, penthouses and luxury resorts,” Higdon said. “Most reprehensible is the fact that this crime is alleged to have been carried out on the backs of our most vulnerable: the poor, the deceased, the elderly and the disabled.”
Timothy Harron, 50, and Latisha Harron, 44, a former North Carolina resident, were taken into custody Wednesday in Las Vegas.
The charges against them include 54 counts of wire fraud, one count of health care fraud, six counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 11 counts of conducting transactions in criminally derived property with fraud and money laundering, according to prosecutors.
Each of the wire fraud charges carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Public defenders for Latisha Harron in North Carolina and Timothy Harron in Nevada did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Prosecutors said that the Harrons both concealed previous felony convictions on Medicaid provider enrollment forms for two businesses that they operated: Agape Healthcare Systems Inc. and Assured Healthcare Systems LLC.
Latisha Harron had previously been convicted of identity theft; and Timothy Harron had been convicted of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the criminal complaint.
Latisha Harron was also charged Wednesday with making false statements relating to health care matters, which prosecutors said stemmed from her lying about her identity theft conviction.
As part of the fraud scheme, the Harrons checked funeral home websites for the obituaries of people who had recently died in North Carolina, according to the complaint. They obtained the person’s Medicaid identification number from a state verification system and checked to see whether the person had unused coverage for home health care services, authorities said. Then they billed the system for fictitious services, the complaint said.
“Stealing taxpayer money from a health care program designed to care for the poor and disabled just to bankroll a private jet and other luxury products — as alleged in this case — is reprehensible,” Derrick L. Jackson, a special agent in charge at the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, said in a statement Wednesday.
In addition to images of a decadent lifestyle, Timothy Harron’s Instagram profile is filled with inspirational quotes, including some that he attributed to himself.
“I’m not doing a business that’s new, I’m doing a new way of doing business,” he wrote in one.