AG: Company bought rundown wheelchairs, sold them as new to the poor, disabled

OLYMPIA -- The state's attorney general has filed criminal charges against a wheelchair company that allegedly bought shoddy chairs from, threw on a fresh layer of paint and sold them as new to customers.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has charged Wheelchairs Plus Inc. of Thurston County with first-degree theft and falsifying Medicade statements for allegedly providing more than 100 Medicaid customers with refurbished wheelchairs, claiming they were new.

The owner of the company, Michael Mann, allegedly bilked the state Medicaid system out of more than $600,000 with the scam that ran from 2006-2012. Mann allegedly bought wheelchairs online and from nursing homes, painted the chairs, and put a new label or serial number on them before sale.

After selling the wheelchair, Mann allegedly submitted false claims to Medicaid, saying he provided a brand new item.

Mann's arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 12 in Thurston County Superior Court.

State Medicaid recipients are often low-income or disabled.