DOVER - The bookkeeper for a former Rochester Taxi Cab company who was originally facing up to 45 years in prison in a scheme that fraudulently billed Medicaid for costs of transportation that were never provided may avoid jail time all together if a letter sent by the presiding judge leads the prosecution to grant a diversionary program.
Liudmila Bulatova, 38, of Evergreen Lane, Lebanon, Maine, the wife of Frank's Taxi owner Edward Donnell IV, 40, of Dover, pleaded guilty in April to being part of the conspiracy. She was scheduled to plead guilty on Tuesday, but instead Strafford Superior Judge Mark E. Howard sent a letter ordering prosecutors to consider a diversion program that would keep Bulatova out of jail.
"The court requests that the state address the possibility of diversion within 30 days of this order," the judge wrote. "The court will hold a telephonic status conference on July 21."
Donnell pleaded guilty in July to a series of charges involving the Medicaid fraud scheme for billing fraudulent claims for non-emergency medical transportation services from June 2, 2015, to April 30, 2016.
The false claims added up to more than $20,000 for transportation services that were never provided.
Donnell pleaded guilty to conspiring with Bulatova, David Hackney, 40; and Angela Soule, while Donnell owned Frank's Taxi, which was headquartered in Somersworth, but also served Rochester.
Bulatova, Donnell's wife, was employed by Frank's Taxi and handled the company's billing, while Hackney worked as a driver. Soule was Hackney's girlfriend.
Donnell was sentenced in March 2021 to 12 months in the Strafford County House of Corrections, with a recommendation for administrative home confinement after 30 days for conspiracy to make false claims charge, a class B felony. The court further ordered Donnell to pay restitution jointly and severally in the amount of $21,298.14 to New Hampshire Medicaid.
Hackney also pleaded guilty in March 2021 to conspiracy to make false claims, a class B felony, and conspiracy to commit theft by deception, a class A felony. He was sentenced to 12 months at Strafford County House of Corrections.
Soule pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to two to four years in state prison, all suspended for three years.
In his order earlier this week Howard noted that full restitution to New Hampshire Medicaid had been made.
The maximum sentence for all those indicted was originally up to 45 years in state prison.