Ill. OK'd contract despite fraud

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 11:23 a.m.CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 11:28 a.m.CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Investigators have determined that Illinois Department of Human Services officials approved $1.7 million in payments to a transportation business despite the company's conviction for Medicaid fraud.

A report Tuesday by Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza indicates that Downstate Transportation Services got $1.7 million to take patients to mental health facilities even after a 2008 conviction for fraudulently billing Illinois $400,000.

The officials included the agency's director of mental health, Lorrie Rickman-Jones, and her chief of staff, Robert Vyverberg. A legal liaison and regional director also received verbal or written reprimands.

Vyverberg and other employees involved say Downstate was the only company that would do the work.

The agency told Meza it is more closely monitoring contracts. A phone number for Downstate Transportation is disconnected.

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