School counselor charged with murder faces federal charges


COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Columbus County man already charged with murder now faces separate federal criminal charges.

A federal grand jury indicted Michael Shawn Brown last week on 20 counts of wire fraud, two counts aggravated identity theft, two counts of arson and one count of making material false statements. In May Brown was charged with second degree murder in the March death of Larry Townes. Brown told investigators Townes startled him when he came to Brown’s business after hours and tried to rob him.

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The US Attorney’s Office says Brown, who was a licensed professional counselor working at Chadbourn Elementary School, had a separate counseling business that claimed to provide “free” teacher-supervised tutoring services, snacks, transportation services, and youth activities and games to lower income individuals. As part of the process for registering each new participant at that business, Brown required his employees to obtain a copy of the participant’s Medicaid card. After the initial meeting during which the Medicaid participants gave over their Medicaid card, however, some participants had no further contact with Brown. Prosecutors, though, say Brown routinely billed Medicaid as though he had performed “individual
psychotherapy” or “group” behavioral health counseling and therapy sessions on the children for as long as two hours on a single day.

The US Attorney’s Office says on March 21 Brown transmitted false billing sheets by fax from Chadbourn Elementary School to his billing agent in Florida, in which 16 different alleged 120-minute therapy sessions involving one individual were billed to Medicaid. Prosecutors say on April 13 Brown again faxed billing sheets to his Florida billing agent in which Medicaid was falsely billed for 26 120-minute therapy sessions
involving a second individual.

According to the indictment, on April 14, 2011, investigators requesting access to Brown’s records. Brown refused, but did agree to meet with investigators on April 18. During an interview, Brown told investigators that the last time he was in his business was at 2:30 p.m. on the day before the records inspection. The Indictment alleges that, in fact, Brown had a relative drive him to the business the night before the records
inspection. The business burned that night. The indictment further alleges that as a result of the fire investigators were unable to examine whatever records, if any, were located in the business.

Brown faces decades in prison if convicted.

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