The state attorney general is suing a Westport couple who own a psychiatric practice for Medicaid fraud, charging they submitted bills that added up to them seeing patients 24 hours a day.

Attorney General George Jepsen announced Thursday morning that Dr. Ashwini Sabnis, a psychiatrist, and her husband Saurav “Sam” Mohanty, co-owners of Brighter Concept, Inc., 2000 Post Road in Fairfield, allegedly filed false claims under the Connecticut Medical Assistance Program. The couple also operated a Brighter Concept office in New Haven.

Jepsen said he is seeking triple damages under the state’s False Claims Act for actions that occurred between January 2010 and December of last year, including billing for services that garnered higher reimbursement levels than the services they actually provided. Jepsen alleged that the couple overbilled the state Department of Social Services by $768,171 during the four-year period.

The lawsuit, pursued by Jepsen and state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris, was filed in Hartford Superior Court.

"This action is being brought to seek damages, civil penalties and other relief due to a scheme that was perpetrated on a health care program intended to care for our most vulnerable citizens," Jepsen said in a statement. "Health care providers who accept taxpayer dollars must play by the rules."

The couple’s lawyer, Ross Garber, declined comment.

The 42-page complaint alleges that the scheme included claims for services not rendered, as well as overbilling and filing false statements in a “systematic and persistent pattern of submitting false and fraudulent claims.” The lawsuit alleges that Sabnis and Mohanty discouraged auditors from the state Department of Social Services with claims that their computer system had crashed.

Sabnis regularly overbooked her scheduled Medicaid patients for 15- or 30-minute appointments, saw them for as little as 5 or 10 minutes, then used a reimbursement code that showed she spent as much as 75 to 80 minutes with them, the complaint said. The lawsuit alleges that there were 113 days when Sabnis billed the state for more than 24 hours of service for low-income and disabled patients.

Department of Social Services Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby praised the Attorney General’s investigation.

“Uprooting and eliminating this type of fraudulent activity requires the constant vigilance of oversight agencies,” Bremby said. “While the great majority of Medicaid-enrolled providers are professional and honest, the exceptions require aggressive action on behalf of the program’s overall integrity and the taxpayers who fund it.”