Local Man Pleads Guilty to Fraud Over Fake COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 test | Image by Jarun Ontakrai

An Irving man recently pleaded guilty to charges stemming from fraudulent COVID-19 testing insurance claims, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

The guilty plea was announced in a press release on Thursday.

In December, Terrance Barnard, 40, was indicted for participating in a scheme that resulted in insurers racking up more than $7 million in losses. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, aggravated identity theft, and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the most challenging circumstances our healthcare providers and insurers have faced in generations. Schemes to financially exploit the system when providers and insurers are facing these monumental challenges must be dismantled, and those responsible must be held to account,” said U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton, according to a news release announcing the indictments last year.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Barnard’s accomplice, Connie Jo Clampitt, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in May.

Court documents revealed that Barnard and Clampitt unlawfully accessed patient data, including names, birthdates, and insurance subscriber numbers, from clinics where Barnard worked as a contract lab technician. They reportedly used the stolen patient data to file fraudulent claims under the names of non-operational shell entities. They filed the claims with insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana, and Molina Health Care.

Together, they submitted approximately $30 million in fraudulent claims and received over $7 million in reimbursements for COVID-19 testing that never happened.

Terrance Barnard now faces a potential federal prison term of up to seven years. His plea agreement mandates a $7.29 million forfeiture money judgment and the relinquishment of various seized assets, including $2.5 million from multiple bank accounts, two residences, six vehicles, and six luxury watches, according to the press release.

In Dallas, there have been a combined 409 reported instances of identity theft, forgery, and impersonation offenses logged by the Dallas Police Department, according to the City of Dallas Open Data crime overview dashboard.

Dallas has struggled with keeping property crime down, especially motor vehicle thefts, which have skyrocketed in recent years, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

DPD maintains a police force of under 3,200 officers. A City analysis recommends that Dallas needs about three officers for every 1,000 residents, putting an ideal staffing level at around 4,000 officers. The shortage has been felt in Downtown Dallas, which consistently logs higher rates of criminal activity than nearby Fort Worth’s downtown area. A dedicated police unit patrols the latter alongside private security officers.

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