Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the Miami office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
Alina Feas, 53, of Miami, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in the Southern District of Florida. In addition to her prison term, Feas was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $24.1 million in restitution.
On May 7, 2013, Feas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one substantive health care fraud count. During the course of the conspiracy, Feas was employed as a therapist and clinical director of HCSN’s Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness. HCSN of Florida (HCSN-FL) operated community mental health centers at two locations. In her capacity as clinical director, Feas oversaw the entire clinical program and supervised therapists and other HCSN-FL personnel. She also conducted group therapy sessions when therapists were absent, and she was aware that HCSN-FL paid illegal kickbacks to owners and operators of Miami-Dade County Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) in exchange for patient referral information to be used to submit false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Feas also knew that many of the ALF referral patients were ineligible for PHP services because many patients suffered from mental retardation, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Feas submitted claims to Medicare for individual therapy she purportedly provided to HCSN-FL patients using her personal Medicare provider number, knowing that HCSN-FL was simultaneously billing the same patients for PHP services. She continued to bill Medicare under her personal provider number while an HCSN community health center in North Carolina (HCSN-NC) simultaneously submitted false and fraudulent PHP claims.
Feas was also aware that HCSN-FL personnel were fabricating patient medical records. Many of these medical records were created weeks or months after the patients were admitted to HCSN-FL for purported PHP treatment and were used to support false and fraudulent billing to government-sponsored health care benefit programs, including Medicare and Florida Medicaid. During her employment at HCSN-FL, Feas signed fabricated PHP therapy notes and other medical records used to support false claims to government-sponsored health care programs.
At HCSN-NC, Feas was aware that her co-conspirators were fabricating medical records to support the fraudulent claims she was causing to be submitted to Medicare on behalf of HCSN-NC. She knew that a majority of the fabricated notes were created at the HCSN-FL facility for patients admitted into the PHP at HCSN-NC. In some instances, Feas signed therapy notes and other medical records even though she never provided services in HCSN-NC’s PHP.
From 2004 through 2011, HCSN billed Medicare and the Medicaid program more than $63 million for purported mental health services.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Allan J. Medina, former Special Trial Attorney Allan J. Medina, and Deputy Chief Benjamin D. Singer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.