Woman in handcuffs. Woman in handcuffs. Photo: Shutterstock.com

A 61-year-old Newtown psychologist has been charged by state investigators for allegedly bilking the Medicaid program of $79,418 for services she never performed.

Inspectors from the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney said Monday they were “tipped off by a former employee” about the alleged abuses by Jeannie Pasacreta, who operates Integrated Mental Health Services on Abbey Lane.

That ex-employee, Kathleen Giorno-Hicock, told authorities that Pasacreta had received “very large” payments from Medicaid even though she “barely works” and was “constantly canceling” appointments with patients.

Matthew Maddox of the New Canaan-based The Maddox Law Firm represents Pasacreta. Neither he nor Pasacreta responded to a request for comment Tuesday.

State investigators said follow-up investigations found that over a two-year period beginning in 2016, Pasacreta billed Medicaid for hundreds of claims for services that were not rendered. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Pasacreta also misused the personal information of patients to bill for appointments on dates when the patients were either out of the state or out of the country. The phony claims, the government said, involved 15 patients.

Pasacreta operates the business out of her home and offers counseling to patients with mental, behavioral and emotional disorders. The licensed psychologist and advanced practice registered nurse was released on a $150,000 bond. She is charged with one count each of first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community, health insurance fraud, and first-degree identity theft. She will be arraigned in Hartford Superior Court on Oct. 3. The charges carry, in total, up to 25 years in prison.

The case will be prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The unit was assisted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. the state Department of Social Services Office of Quality Assurance, the Attorney General’s Office and the Rocky Hill Police Department.

Mark Dupois, communications officer for the state Division of Criminal Justice, said Tuesday the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit would have no comment beyond the press release it issued.

The unit was established in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney in 1978 as a result of federal legislation authorizing the states to investigate and prosecute fraud and abuse in Medicaid.

Providers can include physicians, dentists, nursing or convalescent homes, medical equipment supply companies, taxi and other transportation companies, or anyone else who bills the Connecticut Medicaid program for health care services provided to a Medicaid recipient.

Medicaid is a government program that provides health coverage to low-income individuals.