Former elementary school counselor sentenced to 30 years in pris - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Former elementary school counselor sentenced to 30 years in prison

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Michael Brown (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office) Michael Brown (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office)

CHADBOURN, NC (WECT) - Michael Brown, a former elementary school counselor in Columbus County who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and arson in federal court in August, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison, accompanied by a three-year supervised release term.

Brown is also required to pay $345,302 in restitution.

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the charges stemmed from Brown's work with Five Points, a Christian counseling center he owned that provided "free" teacher-supervised tutoring services, snacks, transportation services, youth activities and games to lower income people.

To participate, people had to present their Medicaid card, which employees were instructed to copy.

The U.S. Attorney's office alleges Brown routinely billed Medicaid as though he had performed "individual psychotherapy" or "group" behavioral health counseling and therapy sessions on children for as much as two hours on a single day, although they say Brown often never had contact with these children.

When investigators asked to see Brown's records, Brown's business burned the night before, so that investigators were never able to examine the records.

$257,802 of the restitution will go to North Carolina Fund For Medical Assistance, and $87,500 will go to the owner of the building that Brown burned.

Brown was also charged with first-degree murder charges from March 2010, accused of shooting Larry Towns at Five Points.

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