RALEIGH, N.C. — A former North Carolina couple facing prison time for Medicaid fraud flaunted the fruits of their crimes on social media.
On his Facebook page, Timothy Mark Harron describes himself as an "Entrepreneur, author, husband, traveler, jet setter, wine connoisseur and lover of fine food."
On her page, his wife, Latisha Harron, uses the motto “Let your dreams be bigger than your excuses.”
For years, the couple lived a dream, traveling to Australia, the South Pacific, Malibu, Napa, Italy and other destinations. Tim Harron routinely posted selfie videos at the resorts or penthouses where the couple vacationed. Over a three- to four-year period, they were true jet-setters in their private $900,000 plane.
"We’re often dealing with crimes that are victimless – or seen as victimless," said Thomas Dearden, an assistant sociology professor at Virginia Tech, who studies white-collar criminals.
Dearden said the online lifestyle flaunting was essentially a digital trophy case for the Harrons.
"Those kind of social media posts are their own reward and kind of validation," he said.
Dave Richard, who oversees North Carolina's Medicaid program, which provides health care to low-income children and adults, finds only aggravation in the posts.
"It’s these kinds of things that are just infuriating," Richard said, noting that cases of fraud tarnish the good work of real service providers.
"When you have someone that does this and then uses those dollars to have this lifestyle that none of the beneficiaries that we serve have, it’s outrageous," he said. "Frustrating is probably too nice a word for it."
The Harrons, who later moved to a Las Vegas penthouse, incorporated two home health care service providers in North Carolina and billed the state’s Medicaid system at least $17 million. Most, if not all of the people they claimed to help, were already dead. Investigators say they obtained names from obituaries, cross-checked them with a Medicaid database and billed for services purportedly provided to the people before they died.
Latisha Harron used Agape Healthcare Systems Inc. in Roanoke Rapids to start the fraud. The couple then started another company that she registered but her husband claimed to run.
The fraudulent billing accelerated from there.
Dearden said it’s common for white-collar criminals to start small but then get too big.
"All of the sudden, if you’ve stolen a million, that $5 million seems easier to steal," he said.
The scheme came crashing down a couple years ago, when federal agents charged the Harrons with dozens of crimes.
The Harrons both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Tim Harron is still awaiting sentencing, but his wife will spend more than 14 years in prison and was ordered to repay $13.4 million to the Medicaid program.
The government also seized the private jet, Tim Harron’s Aston Martin sports car, designer purses, jewelry and other items bought with the Medicaid money.
Tim Harron also posted several of his own quotes online, including one that states, "I’m not doing a business that’s new, I’m doing a new way of doing business."
New? Maybe. Illegal? Definitely.
"It’s the worst kind of crime that people can commit because they’re committing it against people who actually need these services," Richard said. "Any dollar they take away hurts that."
Author: Cullen Browder, WRAL Anchor/Reporter
Date: July 12, 2021 5:45 p.m. EDT Updated July 13, 2021 12:08 p.m. EDT