Attorney General Beau Biden announced that a nurse at the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna has been arrested and charged with numerous crimes related to her alleged use of fraud and forgery to obtain prescription drugs that were intended for patients at the facility.
Danielle M. Tharp-Strouse, 31, of the 6100 block of Mud Mill Road in Camden, was arrested on March 21 by Biden's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. She has been charged with three felony counts of Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Misrepresentation or Fraud or Forgery, seven counts of Second-Degree Forgery and one count of Falsifying a Business Record. After being arraigned, Tharp was released on $51,000 unsecured bond.
“Healthcare professionals taking medication intended for their patients has played a role in the alarming increase in prescription drug abuse we have experienced in Delaware and beyond,” Biden said. “We’re acting to stop this type of criminal activity, which can endanger patients’ lives and cost millions of dollars in fraud for the Medicaid program and for private insurance plans.”
The investigation began on March 19, 2013 when an administrator at the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill reported to the Smyrna Police Department that an employee had been illegally obtaining Oxycodone, a powerful prescription painkiller. The Smyrna Police Department turned the investigation over the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and its ongoing investigation found that in 2013 between February 1 and March 19, Tharp-Strouse allegedly forged the signatures of other registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who worked at the hospital on Controlled Substances sheets indicating the drugs had been given to patients. In reality, Tharp-Strouse allegedly kept the drugs for personal use.
The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s team of prosecutors, investigators, and other support staff investigates and prosecutes abuse, neglect, drug diversion and financial exploitation occurring in facilities which receive Medicaid funding. The Unit is also charged with protecting taxpayers and healthcare programs by investigating and prosecuting fraud committed by providers.
Biden encouraged anyone who may know of Medicaid fraud or who suspects patient abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and financial exploitation in nursing homes and other facilities to contact the Delaware Medicaid Fraud Control Hotline at (302) 577-5000. Anonymous tips are accepted.