Polk schools says student information not at risk following Korzelius fraud

Published 1:25 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2017

TRYON – Polk County Schools said this week student identities from Tryon Elementary School are not at risk following the case of former guidance counselor Joe Korzelius pleading guilty to healthcare fraud involving Medicaid.

Korzelius pleaded guilty last Wednesday, June 7 to healthcare fraud at the federal courthouse in Asheville after being accused of billing $450,000 worth of false Medicaid billing and receiving more than $436,000 in reimbursements from Medicaid from October 2013 to October 2016.

After discovering that Korzelius allegedly used student information from Tryon Elementary School to use in his personal business, Western Carolina Counseling Services for the fraudulent billing, Greene said he contacted the U.S. Department of Justice.

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“Polk County Schools was successful in contacting the Department of Justice regarding the Medicaid fraud case involving former school counselor Joe Korzelius,” states a press release from Polk County Schools. “Department of Justice investigators indicated that Joe Korzelius accessed client information through his own private Medicaid claiming access, not through any school process or channel.”

Greene said while the U.S. Department of Justice would not identify any specific individuals that were involved because of the confidential nature of the case, they did convey that the misuse of information was limited to the Medicaid claiming system only.

The U.S. Department of Justice said that Korzelius had the ability to search for clients and bill for reimbursement through his personal practice as a Medicaid service provider, according to Greene, but investigators confirmed the only information that may have been needed and used from Korzelius’ role as a school counselor were student names, addresses and possibly their age.

“After speaking with the Department of Justice investigators, we do not believe any student’s personally identifiable information is at risk,” Greene said. “It appears that Mr. Korzelius needed only directory information like names and addresses to generate claims for his personal business. All indications are that these activities were limited to Medicaid eligible students and families, and involved only the secure Medicaid automated billing system.”

Greene said Polk County Schools is strongly committed to keeping student and family information confidential and are being diligent in following the regulations and guidelines governing the access and use of student records and information.

“I appreciate the Department of Justice sharing this information with us so we can address the concerns of our families, and help them better understand what happened,” Greene said.

Greene encourages anyone concerned to contact him directly at Polk County Schools at 828-894-3051 or by calling the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division at 919-881-2320.

Korzelius was no longer employed by Polk County Schools as of last Wednesday evening following his guilty plea. A sentencing hearing has not yet been set. Korzelius faces 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.