Utah therapist is 4th person facing charges in treatment facility fraud investigation

A licensed marriage therapist has been charged with signing documents saying patients had received treatment from a behavioral health treatment center, even though he never saw any of the patients.

A licensed marriage therapist has been charged with signing documents saying patients had received treatment from a behavioral health treatment center, even though he never saw any of the patients. (Zolnierek, Shutterstock)

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MT. PLEASANT, Sanpete County — A licensed marriage and family therapist in Utah is facing criminal charges accusing him of signing paperwork stating patients at a behavioral health treatment center had received therapy — even though prosecutors say he never saw any of the patients — resulting in fraudulent billing to Medicaid.

Michael Evan Blair, 74, of St. George, was charged Monday with two counts of violating the Utah False Claims Act, a second-degree felony.

Blair is now the fourth person from the Mt. Pleasant-based Measures of Affect Theoretically Relative, commonly referred to as MATR, to be charged by the Utah Attorney General's Office for allegedly defrauding Medicaid out of nearly $13 million.

Prosecutors say the business was a "behavioral health company offering substance use disorder treatment." Outpatient services were also offered at offices in Salt Lake, Utah and Washington counties. The business became a Medicaid provider in 2018.

"In total, over 7,700 claims were submitted for billing … from March 11, 2019, through June 8, 2022, resulting in Medicaid funds in the amount of $12,994,704.31 being paid to MATR. Medicaid representatives indicated that these services would not have been funded if the Medicaid program had known that services had been provided by unqualified individuals and that falsified information had been entered into medical records," according to charging documents.

The three primary administrators at Measures of Affect Theoretically Relative, Lillian Kaye Simiskey, 40, Margaret Krisandra Christie, 41, and Deaun Larson Holdaway, 66, were charged earlier this month.

Investigators say Blair contracted with the center from September 2019 through February 2022.

"His duties were to review all group therapy session documents which required a licensed therapist, including treatment plans and therapy sessions, and to sign the records using BestNotes," the charges state.

Blair also allegedly admitted his job was to "simply sign medical records, and not to assess patients, prescribe services, create care plans, or provide therapy services. Blair signed records from his home without knowing who performed the services, what clients attended, or what was taught," the charges state. "BestNotes records corroborate Blair was not involved in performing patient assessments, creating care plans, conducting group therapy, or documenting services in the medical record, but showed he electronically signed the documents as if he had.

"Blair said he never actually saw any of the patients and would review and sign the treatment plans from his home computer, which usually only took one to two hours per week," the charges allege. "Blair said he did not know who conducted the sessions, what clients attended, or if the therapy occurred. He just assumed services were provided and signed the records from home."

Prosecutors say during the time Blair was employed by the center, he caused more than 2,000 false claims to be submitted, charging documents say.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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