Head of suburban Chicago autism center accused of fraud

CHICAGO — The head of a suburban Chicago facility that treats patients with autism is accused of defrauding an insurance company of millions of dollars.

Latrice Harrell is the executive director of The Champion Center for Autism in Oak Forest. She is charged in U.S. District Court with health care fraud, making false statements in a health care matter and identity theft. Harrell of Olympia Field pleaded not guilty Thursday.

Federal prosecutors allege the 46-year-old Harrell billed Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois at least $3 million for services never provided patients. As a result, Harrell received more than $1.6 million from the insurer between November 2015 and May 2018.

Prosecutors say Harrell billed the insurer for treatments she falsely claimed were performed by the center’s occupational therapist or behavioral analyst.

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