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Last defendant in insurance scheme gets 18 years in prison

BRANDON — The final defendant has been sentenced in a scheme that bilked the state out of more than $500,000 in a health care fraud scheme.

Former Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi employee Sonya Mitchell, 35, of Jackson was sentenced to 18 years in prison for her part in a scheme that led to the processing of claims for medical procedures that never were performed. Mitchell pleaded guilty in Rankin County Circuit Court to four counts each of conspiracy, insurance fraud, mail fraud and making false representations to defraud the government.

In all, 14 people have been sentenced for their involvement in the scheme.

Attorney General Jim Hood says in the scheme, three Blue Cross/Blue Shield workers, who were charged in the case and later fired by the insurance company, recruited state or school employees to file fraudulent claims.

The state employees would then kick back a portion of the money to the insurance workers.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield administers the state health plan and the company replaced the money stolen in the scheme.

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