Former Madison Counselor Nills Fouls Medicaid Fraud Plea Deal, Faces June Trial

The temptation of CEO power may have proved too much for Shawn Nills. In 2011, the Madison resident won promotion to chief at Huron-based Community Counseling Services. Nills had served as counselor and  director at the Madison branch of CCS since 2001. After a year at the helm, Nills began to submit fraudlent Medicaid claims:

Investigators have accused Nills of making false claims between Oct. 3, 2012 and March 28, 2014. The false claims, such as up-codes and nonexistent counseling sessions, included expense charges to state-operated and federally-funded programs that amounted to about $9,200 [Chuck Clement, “Nills’ Plea Agreement Denied,” Madison Daily Leader, 2015.04.29].

Shawn Nills (right) walks out of court with his wife Renee Nills (left) and attorney Jay Leibel (holding door). Screen cao from KELO-TV, 2015.04.29
Shawn Nills (right) walks out of court with his wife Renee Nills (left) and attorney Jay Leibel (holding door). Screen cao from KELO-TV, 2015.04.29

CCS put Nills on leave in April 2014 and canned Nills in May 2014. During his leave, Nills went to work up the road for the Watertown Human Service Agency, which, that Sioux Falls paper reminds us, has received $1.4 million in state contracts this fiscal year.

Nills was ready to plead guilty to one count of making false claims (Class 5 felony, up to five years in prison, $10K fine), pay the state back $27,680, and write letters of apology to CCS and the state Department of Social Services. But that plea deal fell apart yesterday, as Judge Vincent Foley found Nills changing his story from his plea hearing to his pre-sentence report. Now Nills will go to trial in June.

But hey, maybe the trial will give Nills the chance to find Jesus and hire Peter Waldron to make robocalls on his behalf. If he plays his cards right, he could even springboard from Medicaid fraud to candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

p.s.: Among numbers not adding up are Nills’s age. He is reported in various stories as 39, 41, and 42. Nills graduated from Spearfish High School in 1991 and finished his bachelor’s degree at SDSU in 1996.