Northfield woman pleads guilty to defrauding VA

CONCORD – A Northfield woman has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to health-care fraud.

Misty Maciejewski, 35, was charged with the theft of more than $29,000 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Administration, Acting U.S. Attorney Donald Feith said in a statement released to the news media yesterday.

Maciejewski is schedule to be sentenced on Sept. 28. She is facing sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

In an application for health benefits Maciejewski submitted to the VHA on Oct. 3, 2012, she falsely claimed to be a veteran of the Army and that she was honorably discharged after serving in combat. The application was mistakenly approved by the VHA due to an administrative error.

While living in Massachusetts after the application was approved, Maciejewski fraudulently received VHA benefits totaling $8,154.58 which were paid to a half-way house in Boston and applied to medical services she received from the VA hospital in Boston.

After Maciejewski moved to Northfield in July 2013, she fraudulently received VHA benefits totaling $21,287.55 which were paid to non-VA medical services providers and applied to medical services she received from the VA hospital in Manchester, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

"Veteran benefits programs exist to provide services needed by those who have put on the uniform in defense of our country," Feith stated. "Our office will continue to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who seek to defraud these programs and thus deprive true veterans of the funds they need."

The case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Kinsella.

Correction: MTRC no longer exists

CORRECTION — An article in Thursday's edition of The Daily Sun mistakenly referred to a meeting of the Motorcycle Technical Review Committee (MTRC). This committee, which reviewed site plans for vendors and other aspects of Motorcycle Week, no longer exists. In 2013 it was replaced by the Special Events Review Committee, which assumed its responsibilities for Motorcycle Week as well as oversees other special events like the Pumpkin Festival and holiday celebrations.

Local DHHS office on chopping block

LACONIA – The Laconia District office of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at 65 Beacon Street West is one of four that could be closed to under consideration to fulfill a provision of the 2016-17 state budget requiring the department to consolidate district offices to reduce general fund appropriations to the agency by $1 million in each year of the biennium.

In an e-mail sent to district office staff on Thursday, Nick Toumpas, the commissioner of DHHS, confirmed that along with Laconia, offices in Claremont, Conway and Rochester have also been identified for closure. He noted that the savings would be achieved by "consolidation of district offices and associated reduction in lease expenses."

Toumpas reminded employees that although both the House of Representatives and the Senate included the provision in their respective versions of the budget, the budget process has not reached its conclusion.

"In short," he wrote, "this is not final," cautioning that "it is premature to speculate about any proposed change." At the same time, he stressed, "... this is not a proposal that contemplates any reduction in staff." But, he conceded, "when we take whatever actions we need to, they may create a change in travel time to different workplace – an increase or a decrease in commute."

There are 62 employees working in the Laconia District office with 11,938 open cases. The office serves the city of Laconia and 25 towns (Alexandria, Alton, Ashland, Barnstead, Belmont, Bridgewater, Bristol, Campton, Center Harbor, Dorchester, Ellsworth, Gilford, Gilmanton, Hebron, Holderness, Meredith, New Hampton, Plymouth, Rumney, Sanbornton, Thornton, Tilton, Waterville Valley and Wentworth) .

State Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) said that the prospect of closing district offices was "one of many reasons I voted against the budget." He said that Concord will likely be the closest office to those in the Laconia catchment area, which will represent a hardship for whom access to transportation is an issue. "This cut was made to get to a number," he said. "Not to encourage the department to run a more efficient operation."