A Birmingham psychologist has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Alabama Medicaid Agency out of $1.5 million, according to the state attorney general.

Sharon D. Waltz, 50, operator of Capstone Medical Resources, billed the agency for services that were never performed, a Thursday news release states. Capstone Medical Resources, which is based in Birmingham but has a number of offices around the state, provides individual and group counseling sessions for troubled youth.

Investigators say Waltz submitted and directed her employees to submit claims for counseling services that never occurred. In some instances, claims were submitted for people — including her family members and friends of employees — who never received services, investigators said.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall called Waltz's action "a callous abuse" of trust.

As part of her guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Waltz has agreed to pay restitution of the full amount.

“The greed of this defendant deprived mental health care to many at-risk young people in Alabama, with the focus on profit rather than the efficacy of care,” said U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town. “The costs are not just monetary, but have social and health impacts on the entire Northern District."

An audit showed that Waltz’s billings to the Medicaid agency increased from $99,000 in 2015 to more than $2.2 million in 2017.

The audit launched an investigation, which showed that the majority of claims submitted by Capstone Mecidal Resources from 2016 through 2018 were fraudulent, according to the news release.

“Stealing taxpayer dollars meant for vital community services will not be tolerated,” said Derrick L. Jackson, special agent in charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.