Fresno, California - Christina Hernandez, 39, resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, appeared in court Monday and pleaded not guilty to an eleven-count indictment charging her with health care fraud and embezzlement from a health care benefits program, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Hernandez was a provider relations specialist at the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health, which is responsible for administering mental health services to Fresno County’s Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Hernandez was responsible for reviewing and approving claim forms from private mental health care providers who provided services to Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The indictment alleges that Hernandez submitted claim forms for medical services that were never actually provided and that she subsequently cashed the reimbursement checks for her own benefit. The indictment also alleges that Hernandez stole reimbursement checks that the county issued to doctors for actual medical services provided. In total, it is alleged that Hernandez stole approximately $98,560 from the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Services.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Grant B. Rabenn is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Hernandez faces a maximum statutory penalty of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.