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2 Eastern Ky. therapists sentenced

Two Eastern Kentucky therapists accused of defrauding the state's Medicaid program have accepted a plea agreement.

Vanessa Rouse, a speech pathologist from Deane in Letcher County, and Janice Fields, a developmental interventionist from Happy in Perry County, pleaded guilty to medicaid fraud, a class D felony, and were sentenced Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court, according to a news release issued Monday by Attorney General Jack Conway's office.

Under terms of the agreement, both Fields and Rouse will serve five years probation, thus suspending a one-year prison sentence for both women, according to the release. As a condition of their probation, each of them was ordered to pay restitution to the Kentucky Medicaid Program for a total amount of $14,640.25 and to reimburse the attorney general's office for investigative costs.

Prosecutors said Rouse and Fields fraudulently billed the state's Medicaid program for services provided to children in First Steps, a statewide early-intervention program for infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities. During 2006 and 2007, the therapists billed the state for services that were not provided to children, according to the release.

In a related case, Rouse and Fields also pleaded guilty to charges of bribing a witness in Perry Circuit Court last month, according to Conway's office. After receipt of a tip, investigators conducted surveillance of Rouse and Fields. On April 16, the women were arrested after investigators monitored a transaction in which Rouse and Fields gave $200 to a prosecution witness in Perry County and instructed the witness on to how to testify, the release says. Under the terms of that plea agreement, they will be required to serve 30 days of a one-year sentence, the remainder of which will be probated. Sentencing in that case is scheduled for Dec. 18 in Perry Circuit Court.