Ex-Boyfriend Provided Tip To Investigators On Suspect Accused Of Committing ESA and Healthcare Fraud

The indictment of an Arizona woman for allegedly defrauding the state’s private school voucher program and healthcare system was prompted by a former boyfriend’s tip. According to the tip, while dating Michelle Dils, 44, of Phoenix, she asked him to assist in falsifying timecards and falsifying educational services for her son in a long-running deception. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office received the information from the tipster.

According to the investigative report, he stated that he was not interested in getting involved and he did not approve of her plans.

As per the investigators, there was sufficient evidence to validate the statements made by the former boyfriend.

In July of last year, Dils and two other women were indicted by a grand jury after an investigation conducted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. The charges against them involve fraud and theft related to AHCCCS and ESAs, amounting to $129,000.

According to one investigator, it is probable that the totals are actually higher due to the reported misuse of funds.

In 2022, Michelle Dils, a registered nurse and mother of two from Phoenix, provided a short statement to investigators denying any involvement in defrauding the state.

According to investigators, Dils and two others are suspected of receiving reimbursement from the state for services that were deemed fraudulent. Dils is being accused of stating that her child required round-the-clock care for a medical condition (the details of which were withheld in public records), allowing them to qualify for extensive healthcare and special needs ESA funding. The trio was employed as caregivers by organizations that submit claims to AHCCCS for services related to Dils’ son.

According to investigators, the women were not given a formal diagnosis by a healthcare provider. Furthermore, they were accused of falsifying educational receipts and timecards for caregiving.

Receiving $26,000 in annual ESA (Education Savings Account) funds while being “supposedly homeschooled”.

An investigation was conducted by comparing the dates and times of caregiving timesheets with the dates and times when Dils’ son would have been receiving homeschooling. The records indicated that the three women had stated that the teenager was receiving “educational services” for 4-6 hours per day.

According to the report, there were “multiple instances of overlapping” during a three-year period. Investigators discovered 626 cases where caregiving services coincided while the teenager was supposedly being homeschooled.

In the course of the 2022 inquiry, the investigators noted that the two women communicated some details via email, but they chose not to undergo interviews.

According to records, Dils received a total of $106,540 in ESA funds from 2017 to 2021, making them eligible for more than $26,000 per year for special needs ESA expenses.

According to investigators, Jose Simon Cardenas, the father of Dils’ other child, was interviewed. Cardenas stated that he did not think Dils’ son had received homeschooling, despite Dils’ claims to the state.

The state’s ESA portals were reportedly used by Dils to upload receipts that were found to be falsely claiming payment for her son’s educational services. However, investigations reveal that Dils actually acquired the funds through a series of transactions and used them for personal expenses such as retail purchases, dining out, and online purchases from Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb.

Concurring with investigators, it is unclear what level of disability the teenager actually has. However, they mentioned that the teenager is known on social media as the primary vocalist of a punk-rock group that has performed at concerts in both Arizona and California, drawing in large audiences. The ex-boyfriend of Dils informed investigators that the teenager is capable of managing personal hygiene and preparing meals independently on a daily basis.

According to the existing records, it is uncertain how Dils managed to get her son approved for high-level medical reimbursements from AHCCCS. Although one record mentions that Dils personally made the diagnosis for her son, it does not provide details on the method used for the diagnosis.

According to authorities, a diagnosis would need to be approved by someone at the state and they would have to confirm that the individual meets the qualifications. DDD has a team of psychologists and other experts who assess and evaluate these applications.

According to State Superintendent Tom Horne, his department has recently intensified efforts to combat ESA fraud. This announcement was made two weeks ago. Horne has announced there will be zero tolerance for any form of abuse.

Horne’s department has reportedly denied over 1,200 reimbursement requests from ESA parents in the previous autumn and referred ten cases to the Attorney General’s Office for additional examination. Additionally, Horne stated that the department halted 2,200 ESA accounts for students who were already enrolled in public schools, resulting in a “savings” of $20 million.