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Attorney General Nessel and MDHHS Director Gordon Announce Charges Against Former State Employee in Kickback Scheme Involving Nearly $200,000

LANSING – Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon today announced that Detroit resident and former MDHHS employee Eliza Yulonda Ijames, 56, has been charged with three felonies: one count of Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy and two counts of Medicaid Fraud-Kickbacks.  The penalty for Medicaid Fraud-Conspiracy is up to 10 years in prison and/or $50,000.  The penalty for Medicaid Fraud-Kickbacks is up to four years in prison and/or $50,000.

Ijames was an MDHHS employee working as an Independent Living Services Specialist within the Wayne County Adult Services office.  Ijames was responsible for approving Medicaid beneficiaries for home help services – non-skilled services intended to assist people with activities of daily living. 

Ijames is alleged to have referred clients to agencies with which she had a personal and financial relationship and approved payments to those same agencies.  Representatives from these agencies then deposited funds into bank accounts owned in part by Ijames.  Ijames withdrew nearly $200,000 from these accounts for her own personal use between about January 2015 through December 2017.

The matter was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the MDHHS Office of Inspector General after an extensive and thorough investigation.

"Public employees who betray the trust placed in them are particularly disappointing and do not represent the tens of thousands of dedicated people who work to make Michigan better every day," said Nessel.  “I would like to thank the team with the MDHHS Office of Inspector General for identifying and referring this case to my office.”

“We have a duty to put the public interest first, and it’s hard to think of a greater violation of that duty than taking kickbacks,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “I commend the hard work of the OIG and the AG’s offices to uphold the values of public service.” 

Ijames was arraigned on Thursday, Feb. 28, before Judge Richard Ball of the 54B District Court in East Lansing and given an $10,000 personal recognizance bond. She is next due in court for a preliminary exam on March 8, 2018.