SOUTH PORTLAND — A local psychologist pleaded guilty to federal health-care fraud charges Tuesday before Judge George Singal in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Dr. Carole Orem-Hough, 55, a licensed psychologist who operated Casco Bay Psychotherapy, admitted to fraudulently billing at least four insurers, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II.

The billing for nonexistent counseling sessions occurred between September 2008 and September 2011, and amounted to more than $69,000 in claims for almost 50 patients, Delahanty said. The faked charges were discovered by a patient looking at an explanation of benefits statement and were investigated by the FBI.

After a pre-sentencing investigation by the U.S. Probation Office, Orem-Hough faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine.

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