Counselor sentenced for felony Medicaid fraud
DEER LODGE – A counselor and mental health therapist on Tuesday received at 20-year commitment to the Department of Corrections for felony Medicaid fraud by common scheme, and tampering with a witness.
On the fraud charge, Judge Ray Dayton sentenced Kristi Rydeen to 10 years in an appropriate facility or program, with five years suspended, a $1,000 fine and $160 court fees.
On the charge of tampering, she received 10 years, with all time suspended, a $1,000 fine and $150 court fees. She was also ordered to pay $57,465 in restitution.
The sentences will run consecutive to each other, but concurrent with sentences in Lewis & Clark County.
A tearful Rydeen said she was sorry for the offenses, but that she appreciates the opportunity to move forward with her life.
Judge Dayton called it one of the most surprising cases since he’d been a judge.
“It demonstrates to all of us that you are very human; that you can accomplish great things, but also were able to commit a crime.”
Dayton said the sentence provides a strong measure of punishment, but it’s up to Rydeen to get back on track.
“You have disappointed yourself and your family, but this is the first day of the rest of your life with an opportunity to become a productive citizen again,’’ he said.
Rydeen, who was doing business at her home-office and at the school in Deer Lodge, fraudulently claimed she provided more therapy sessions than actually were conducted with at least 22 Medicaid recipients, many of whom were children, for which she received $57,465.
The tampering charge stems from a text message Rydeen sent to one of her Medicaid patients asking the patient to lie to the investigating officer about the number of therapy sessions they had.