ATLANTA — Theresa Pickering was sentenced to federal prison for committing healthcare fraud by posing as a licensed physician assistant, resulting in approximately $147,000 in attempted losses for insurers.
“Pickering previously served a prison sentence for similar conduct,” said US Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “Then, in flagrant disregard for the law and safety, she knowingly put patients at significant risk by again posing as a licensed healthcare provider.”
“Pickering learned nothing from her previous fraud conviction. Instead, she has chosen to continue endangering the lives of patients through theft and lies,” said Keri Farley, the FBI’s Atlanta Special Agent in Charge. “This phrase will remind others that the FBI will not tolerate healthcare providers who engage in programs that defraud the industry and put innocent patients at risk.”
“This individual egregiously lied about their qualifications to gain access to patient information, which they then used to steal from government health care programs,” said Tamala Miles, special agent in charge for the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “The HHS-OIG is proud to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who put patients at risk and undermine the integrity of government health programs.”
“At OPM OIG, our top priority is protecting patients from harm,” said Conrad J. Quarles, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, OPM OIG. “This conviction demonstrates our commitment to work with our federal partners to hold accountable those who would attempt to compromise the safety of federal nurses.”
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: On or about September 24, 2019, Pickering was hired as a licensed physician assistant at a family practice in Norcross, Georgia. But Pickering wasn’t a licensed medical assistant in Georgia at the time, and as of March 2014, he wasn’t a licensed medical assistant in any state. After serving a prison sentence in a 2015 fraud and narcotics case related to her illegal practice as a medical assistant in the state of Mississippi, Pickering relocated to Georgia and again obtained employment as a licensed physician assistant in the family’s Norcross practice.
During her tenure at the practice, Pickering treated patients, diagnosed illnesses, ordered diagnostic tests and laboratory work, arranged for sick visits, and prescribed medications for patients—none of which was legal due to her lack of licenses and her exclusion from government health care programs. Pickering also wrote prescriptions, including prescriptions for narcotics, on behalf of Physician 1, a contract doctor at the practice, and without Physician 1’s permission. Pickering prompted the practice to file fraudulent reimbursement claims for at least about $147,000 with Medicare and numerous private insurance companies.
Theresa Pickering, 55, of Norcross, Georgia, was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison on April 18, 2023, followed by three years of supervised release. She was also fined $48,742.30 in damages.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General and Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Inspector General.
Assistant US Attorney David A. O’Neal prosecuted the case.
For more information, please contact the US Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The web address of the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.