TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

The owner of Homecare Unlimited LLC was sentenced to six years in state prison Tuesday for submitting more than $400,000 in false claims to the Florida Medicaid Program.

Edna Watkins, of Jacksonville, entered guilty pleas to Medicaid provider fraud and grand theft, both first-degree felonies. In addition to the six years in prison, Watkins was ordered to repay the state $402,424 in restitution.

"Today's strong sentencing of prison time and restitution should send a clear message that people who defraud the Medicaid program will be held accountable," Attorney General Pam Bondi said. "I am grateful to State Attorney Angela Corey's office for their successful prosecution of this case."

"Medicaid fraud is a growing problem in the Jacksonville area," Corey said. "The state attorney's office works constantly with Attorney General Bondi's staff to ensure the Medicaid Program is not being abused."

Acting on a referral from the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated Watkins for billing Medicaid for services that were never rendered or were provided to recipients who were ineligible to receive the services.

For example, Watkins billed Medicaid as having provided services to recipients who were in jail at the time.