2 women get probation on fraud charges

Two city women accused of filing false Medical Assistance claims were sentenced to probation on fraud charges during hearings in front of Judge Marc F. Lovecchio in Lycoming County court on Wednesday morning.

Fateema T. Jett, 36, of 1532 W. Fourth St., filed dozens of false timesheets with Public Partnerships LCC while serving as an in-home personal attendant for her mother in 2015 and received about $2,000 that she hadn’t earned.

Investigators found that on multiple occasions, when her mother was receiving full-time care at medical facilities, Jett still was filing that she had cared for the older woman. Investigators also found that Jett had filed a timesheet on a day that she had been arrested by police on other charges and hadn’t been home to take care of her mother during those hours.

Jett received three years of probation and three months in county prison and will pay $4,280 in restitution on charges of false Medical Assistance claims and tampering with public information — two felonies.

While waiting for trial, Jett spent three months in incarceration, for which she will get credit.

In the other case, Vivian A. Skinner, 51, of 916 Penn St., stood before Lovecchio on similar charges but did not admit guilt for allegedly filing false timesheets for a client who had not been in her care at the time. Rather, Skinner told the court that in late 2016, when the alleged incident occurred, she had been taking care of multiple clients and had confused the hours.

“I was taking care of two different people,” Skinner said. “Between her and him, I would get their times mixed up.”

Despite believing that she had not purposely committed the misdemeanor charges of theft by deception and tampering with public information, Skinner agreed to give an “Alford plea,” or a plea where a defendant pleads guilty to a crime but asserts that they were innocent.

Chris Jason, state deputy attorney general, told Lovecchio that the commonwealth felt that three years of probation and $1,162 in restitution would be a sufficient punishment for Skinner, who last was arrested 24 years ago. Skinner currently works at an White Deer Run Treatment Network outpatient drug treatment and had glowing recommendations from her employers.

“Today I just focus on one more day to save people,” said Skinner, who said she has celebrated her 20th year of sobriety. “I am here to do better.”