Orlando Doctor and Infusion Clinic Owner Sentenced to 64 Months and 90 Months in Prison for Role in Medicare Fraud

Monday, June 26, 2017

An Orlando medical doctor and an infusion clinic owner were sentenced to 64 months in prison and two years supervised release, and 90 months and two years supervised release, respectively, today for their roles in a $13.7 million Medicare fraud conspiracy that involved submitting claims for expensive infusion-therapy drugs that were never purchased, never provided and not medically necessary.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

Dr. Miguel Burgos, 60, of Gotha, Florida, and Yosbel Marimon, 40, of Winter Park, Florida, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton, Jr. of the Middle District of Florida. Judge Dalton also ordered the defendants to pay $9.8 million in restitution and to forfeit the same amount. As part of his plea, Marimon also consented to the forfeiture of real property valued at approximately $1.7 million. Burgos and Marimon each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud: Burgos on February 9, Marimon on February 16.

As part of his guilty plea, Burgos admitted that between July 2008 and September 2011, he was the medical director of four Orlando-area infusion clinics that received Medicare funds. Marimon admitted that he was one of the owners of the four clinics. Burgos and Marimon further admitted that they billed Medicare and private insurance companies for, among other things, expensive infusion therapy medications, including anticancer chemotherapeutic medications, despite never administering the drugs. Burgos and Marimon also admitted to submitted false claims to Medicare and private insurance companies for physical therapy conducted at the clinics, even though there was no licensed physical therapist on staff at the clinics, they admitted. In connection with the scheme, the defendants admitted that they billed Medicare and private insurers approximately $13.7 million, of which approximately $9.8 million was paid on the fraudulent claims.

This case was investigated by HHS-OIG. Fraud Section Trial Attorney Timothy Loper prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Andrejko also provided assistance regarding asset forfeiture issues in this case.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 3,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $12 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Co-Owners of Miami Home Health Agencies Sentenced to Over 10 Years in Prison for $20 Million Fraud Scheme

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A mother and daughter who secretly co-owned and operated seven home health care agencies in the Miami, Florida area were each sentenced to over 10 years in prison today for their roles in a $20 million Medicare fraud conspiracy that involved paying illegal health care kickbacks to patient recruiters and medical professionals.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Brian Swain of the U.S. Secret Service’s Miami Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

Mildrey Gonzalez, 61, and her daughter, Milka Alfaro, 39, both of Miami, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez of the Southern District of Florida to 135 and 151 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the scheme. The defendants were further ordered to pay approximately $22,900,000 in joint and several restitution. Gonzalez and Alfaro each pleaded guilty on March 2, having been charged in a July 2016 superseding indictment. Gonzalez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of health care fraud, while Alfaro pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud.

Alfaro and Gonzalez previously admitted that they secretly co-owned and operated seven home health agencies in the Miami area, yet failed to disclose their ownership interests in any of these agencies to Medicare, as required by relevant rules and regulations. In addition, Alfaro and Gonzalez admitted to paying illegal health care kickbacks to a network of patient recruiters in order to bring Medicare beneficiaries into the scheme, to paying bribes and kickbacks to medical professionals in return for providing home health referrals, and to directing co-conspirators to open shell corporations, into which millions of dollars’ worth of fraud proceeds were funneled. Furthermore, Alfaro and Gonzalez each admitted to perjuring themselves at a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman of the Southern District of Florida, to attempting to influence the testimony of potential trial witnesses, and to submitting false affidavits concerning their assets to the court.

This case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and HHS-OIG. Former Fraud Section Trial Attorney and current Southern District of Florida Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa H. Miller and Fraud Section Trial Attorney L. Rush Atkinson prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Evelyn B. Sheehan and Alison W. Lehr also provided assistance regarding asset forfeiture issues in this case.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,300 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $7 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Unlicensed Detroit Doctor Convicted in $4.69 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A federal jury in Detroit today convicted an unlicensed physician for his participation in a nearly $4.7 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.

Wilfred Griffith, 64, of Detroit, a graduate of a foreign medical school with no medical license, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to solicit and receive health care kickbacks.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 8, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan.

According to evidence presented at trial, Griffith worked as an unlicensed physician at Phoenix Visiting Physicians in 2010 and 2011.  At that clinic, Griffith treated Medicare beneficiaries and used prescription pads pre-signed by Dr. Dwight Smith to prescribe medicine.

The evidence demonstrated that Griffith also referred Medicare beneficiaries to a Detroit-area home health company called Cherish Home Health Services Inc. (Cherish) in exchange for kickbacks.  In ordering the home health services, Griffith used the names and signatures of Dr. Smith and two other Detroit-area physicians to certify that the beneficiaries were homebound and needed home health services, when they did not.

Evidence showed that based on the fraudulent referrals from Griffith and others, Cherish submitted false claims to Medicare for home health services that were never provided and were not medically necessary.  Medicare beneficiaries pre-signed supporting medical paperwork that was then completed and signed by others at Cherish to falsely show that care was provided.

Between November 2009 and December 2013, Medicare paid Cherish nearly $4.7 million, which included more than $680,000 for home health services purportedly rendered to beneficiaries referred by Griffith using the names of Dr. Smith and the two other physicians.

Two other individuals have pleaded guilty for their roles in this scheme.  Zia Hassan, 48, the owner of Cherish, pleaded guilty on Jan. 16, 2015, and Nathan Miller, 53, a patient recruiter who referred beneficiaries to Hassan in exchange for cash kickbacks, pleaded guilty on Aug. 4, 2014.  On May 7, 2012, Dr. Smith also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and on June 12, 2014, U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen of the Eastern District of Michigan sentenced Dr. Smith to three years in prison.

The case was investigated by HHS-OIG and the FBI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Katharine A. Wagner and Special Trial Attorney Katie R. Fink of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Hurford of the Eastern District of Michigan.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Four Florida Residents Sentenced to Federal Prison for Roles in $6 Million Miami Home Health Care Fraud Scheme

Four South Florida residents were sentenced today in connection with a long-running $6.2 million Medicare fraud scheme involving Professional Medical Home Health LLC (Professional Home Health), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services.  Two of the defendants were also sentenced in connection with their conduct in similar schemes at other Miami home health care agencies.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.  Chief U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentences.

Dennis Hernandez, 32, of Miami, was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,438,186 in restitution.  Jose Alvarez, 48, of Miami, was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison and ordered to pay $2,972,570 in restitution.  Joel San Pedro, 45, of Miami, was sentenced to serve 97 months in prison and ordered to pay $4,938,432 in restitution.  Alina Hernandez, 38, of West Palm Beach, was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $204,526.05 in restitution.

Dennis Hernandez, Alvarez, San Pedro and Alina Hernandez each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in November 2014.

In connection with their guilty pleas, each of the defendants admitted that Professional Home Health was actually operated for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for expensive physical therapy and home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided.  Dennis Hernandez, San Pedro and Alvarez admitted to being managers, supervisors, owners and operators at Professional Home Health.  In those capacities, they coordinated and oversaw the submission of fraudulent claims at Professional Home Health, and falsified patient documentation to make it appear that Medicare beneficiaries qualified for and received home health services that were, in fact, not medically necessary or not provided.  Dennis Hernandez and Alvarez also admitted to partaking in similar schemes at additional Miami-area home health agencies.

Additionally, all four defendants admitted to acting as patient recruiters for Professional Home Health.  In this role, they solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from other co-conspirators at Professional Home Health in exchange for recruiting beneficiaries who neither needed, nor, in some cases, received services.

From December 2008 through February 2014, Medicare paid Professional Home Health more than $6.2 million for fraudulent home health claims.

Earlier this year, two other individuals pleaded guilty and were sentenced in connection with the same scheme.  Annarella Garcia, an owner of Professional Home Health, was sentenced to 70 months in prison.  Annilet Dominguez, an administrator of Professional Home Health, was sentenced to 68 months in prison.  Both were also ordered to pay $6,257,142 in restitution.  A sentencing hearing for Ernesto Fernandez and Juan Valdes, co-defendants in the case, is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2015.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Anne P. McNamara 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 nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Owner of Miami Home Health Company Pleads Guilty for Role in $32 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A Miami owner of a home health care company pleaded guilty today in connection with a $32 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

Felix Gonzalez, 45, of Miami, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams of the Southern District of Florida.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 19, 2015.

According to his plea documents, Gonzalez was an owner of AA Advanced Care Inc. (AA Advanced), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  In connection with his guilty plea, Gonzalez admitted that he and his co-conspirators operated AA Advanced for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or not provided at all.

Gonzalez further admitted that he negotiated and paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in exchange for patient referrals, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services for Medicare beneficiaries.  Gonzalez admitted that he and his co-conspirators used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for home health care services.

From approximately January 2006 through March 2009, AA Advanced submitted approximately $32 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided, and Medicare paid approximately $22 million for these fraudulent claims.

The case was 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 is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer and Trial Attorney Kelly Graves 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 nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Owners of Orlando Health Care Clinic Charged with $3 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Charges have been unsealed against husband and wife owners of an Orlando health care clinic for their roles in a fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $3 million in allegedly fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Florida region made the announcement after the defendants were taken into custody last night and this morning.

A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida returned an indictment on Nov. 19, 2014, against Juan Carlos Delgado, 58, and Nereyda Infante, 48, both of Orlando, Florida, charging them with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, five counts of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  According to the indictment, Delgado and Infante owned and operated Prestige Medical Services and Rehab Center, a health care clinic that purportedly provided medical services to Medicare Part B and Medicare Part C beneficiaries, and three other similarly named clinics that also purportedly provided medical services to Medicare Part C beneficiaries.

Between February 2012 and September 2014, the defendants allegedly submitted claims to Medicare that falsely represented that medical services were provided, medically necessary, and prescribed by a physician, when they were not.  The health care fraud counts specifically allege fraudulent claims involving Pentostatin prescriptions, an expensive chemotherapeutic medication, that were not medically necessary, not prescribed by a physician, and not provided.  The indictment also alleges that the defendants transferred proceeds obtained as the result of fraudulent claims and diverted them for their personal use.  According to the indictment, the defendants obtained more than $1.8 million in proceeds from the alleged fraud.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Andrew H. Warren 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 nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Principal in $28.3 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

A Florida owner and operator of multiple physical therapy rehabilitation facilities was sentenced in federal court in Tampa today to serve 11 years in prison for his role in organizing a $28.3 million Medicare fraud scheme involving physical and occupational therapy services.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Paul Wysopal of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office made the announcement.

Luis Duluc, 54, of Tampa, pleaded guilty on Feb. 3, 2014, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud as well as making a false statement relating to health care matters.  In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew of the Middle District of Florida ordered Duluc to pay $14,424,856 in restitution.

According to Duluc’s admissions in connection with his guilty plea, he and his co-conspirators used various physical therapy clinics and other businesses throughout Florida to submit approximately $28,347,065 in fraudulent reimbursement claims to Medicare between 2005 and 2009.  Medicare paid approximately $14,424,865 on those claims.

Duluc was chairman and president of a Delaware holding company known as Ulysses Acquisitions Inc., which was used to purchase comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient physical therapy providers, including West Coast Rehab Inc. in Fort Myers, Florida; Rehab Dynamics Inc. in Venice, Florida; Polk Rehabilitation Inc. in Lake Wales, Florida; and Renew Therapy Center of Port St. Lucie LLC in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  This gave Duluc and his co-conspirators control of those clinics’ Medicare provider numbers, which allowed them to bill Medicare for services.

Duluc admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks to obtain, and stole, the personal identifying information of Medicare beneficiaries, and that he and his co-conspirators also obtained unique identifying information of physicians.  They then used this information to create and submit false claims to Medicare through the clinics owned by Ulysses Acquisitions.  These claims sought reimbursement for therapy services that were not legitimately prescribed and not actually provided.  Duluc admitted that he and his co-conspirators created and used false and forged patient records in an effort to conceal the fact that services had not actually been provided.

Duluc also admitted that he developed and marketed the “80/20 deal.”  In these deals, Duluc and his co-conspirators submitted false reimbursement claims to Medicare on behalf of Miami-based therapy clinics, such as Hallandale Rehabilitation Inc., Tropical Physical Therapy Corporation, American Wellness Centers Inc. and West Regional Center Inc.  Duluc and co-conspirators retained approximately 20 percent of the money Medicare paid on these claims and paid the other 80 percent to the co-conspirator clinic owners.

When Duluc and his co-conspirators were done using the clinics they acquired through Ulysses Acquisitions, they engaged in sham sales to nominee or straw owners, all of whom were recent immigrants to the United States with no background or experience in the health care industry.  Duluc admitted that he did this in an effort to disassociate from the fraudulent operations of the rehabilitation facilities.

This case is being investigated by HHS-OIG and the FBI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.  This case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Christopher J. Hunter and Trial Attorney Andrew H. Warren of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon A. Gaugush of the Middle District of Florida.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Owner of Miami Home Health Company Pleads Guilty for Role in $30 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

An owner of a Miami home health care company pleaded guilty today for his role in a $30 million home health Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement

Ramon Regueira, 66, of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2015.

According to his plea agreement, Regueira was an owner of Nation’s Best Care Home Health Corp. (Nation’s Best), a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  Regueira admitted that he and his co-conspirators operated Nation’s Best for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or were not provided.

Specifically, Regueira admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters who provided patients to Nation’s Best, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services.    Regueira and his co-conspirators then used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for unnecessary home health care services.

From January 2007 through November 2012, Nation’s Best submitted approximately $35 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided, and Medicare paid approximately $21 million for these fraudulent claims.

The case was 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 is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer 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 nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.  To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Detroit-Area Man Arrested in Connection with Home Health Care Fraud Scheme

A Detroit-area resident was arrested today for his role in a $2.7 million home health care fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.

Javed Akhtar, 47, of Brownstown, Michigan, was arrested pursuant to a criminal complaint charging him with participating in a health care fraud scheme involving two home health agencies in Wayne, Michigan:  Life Choice Home Health Care LLC (Life Choice), which he owned, and Angle’s Touch Home Health Care LLC (Angle’s Touch).  Both Life Choice and Angle’s Touch purported to provide in-home health care services to Medicare beneficiaries.

According to the complaint, Akhtar served as a patient recruiter for Angle’s Touch and Life Choice, where he allegedly paid kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for their Medicare beneficiary information and their signatures on false medical records.  The complaint alleges that Angle’s Touch and Life Choice then billed Medicare for services purportedly provided to those beneficiaries that were not actually provided, were not medically necessary, or in instances where the claims were illegally procured through the payment of kickbacks.

The charges contained in a complaint are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was 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 Eastern District of Michigan.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Niall M. O’Donnell 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 nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Owner and Administrator of Two Miami Home Health Companies Sentenced to 80 Months in Prison for $74 Million Fraud Scheme

The owner and administrator of two Miami home health care companies was sentenced today to serve 80 months in prison for her participation in a $74 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.  U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke in the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence.

Elsa Ruiz, 45, of Miami, pleaded guilty in July 2014 to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  In addition to the prison sentence, Ruiz was ordered to pay $45 million in restitution.

Ruiz was an owner and operator of Professional Home Care Solutions Inc. and an administrator of LTC Professional Consultants Inc., both of which purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.  According to admissions during her plea hearing, Ruiz and her co-conspirators operated LTC and Professional Home Care for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or were not provided.

According to her admissions, Ruiz’s primary role in the scheme was to negotiate and pay kickbacks to patient recruiters and to otherwise oversee the schemes operating out of LTC and Professional Home Care.  Specifically, Ruiz and her co-conspirators paid kickbacks to patient recruiters for the referral of patients and for the provision of prescriptions, plans of care, and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services.  Ruiz and her co-conspirators used these prescriptions, plans of care, and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for home health care services.

From approximately January 2006 to June 2012, LTC and Professional Home Care submitted approximately $74 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided, and Medicare paid approximately $45 million on those claims.

The case is being investigated by HHS-OIG and the FBI and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer 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 nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.