CEO Indicted For Wire Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Zheng Geng, a/k/a “Jason Geng”, age 59, of Vienna, Virginia, on charges related to a scheme to defraud the United States. The indictment was returned on August 9, 2017, and unsealed today upon the arrest of Geng. Geng is the Chief Executive Officer of Xigen LLC (Xigen), which has offices in Maryland and Virginia.

The indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Inspector General Paul Martin of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Office of Inspector General; Inspector General Allison Lerner of the National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General; Special Agent in Charge Nick DiGiulio of the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General; Special Agent in Charge Gordon Thompson of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General; and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.

According to the six-count indictment, Geng devised a scheme between 2005 to 2016 to defraud the United States by submitting false and fraudulent grant applications under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The SBIR program aims to stimulate United States technological innovation. A further aim is to foster and encourage participation in technical innovation by socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses that in some instances are at least 51-percent owned and controlled by women. Geng prepared materially fraudulent proposals for awards, subsequent reports, and related communications under the programs.

To support the applications, Geng submitted endorsements for his grant applications using the identities of people without their permission, or misrepresenting their positions within Xigen. In addition, he submitted endorsements that misrepresented active affiliations with various universities including, Harvard University Medical School and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and budgeted funds for subcontractors without their knowledge and without providing them with budgeted funds. With this false information, the United States government approved SBIR program awards and grants through the Department of Health and Human Service’s National Institutes of Health and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The awards totaled over $1.8 million.

According to court documents, Geng used the rewarded funds for his own personal use and the use of his family members and associates.

“The NASA Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively investigate those who undermine and defraud NASA programs and operations,” said Inspector General Martin. “The NASA OIG appreciates the efforts of the entire investigative and prosecution team during this multi-year investigation, and we look forward to continued cooperation with our law enforcement partners in this and related matters.”

Allison Lerner, Inspector General for the National Science Foundation said, “The SBIR program is a valuable tool for advancing promising new technologies. My office will continue to vigorously pursue attempts to defraud scarce research dollars intended to promote economic growth through innovative SBIR investments.”

“The United States Department of Health and Human services provides research grant funds to qualified small businesses; we cannot tolerate the theft of taxpayer funds meant for honest research projects” said Nick DiGiulio, Special Agent in Charge for the Inspector General’s Office of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Geng faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud and a 2-year mandatory minimum consecutive sentence for each of the aggravated identity theft charges.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the NASA Office of Inspector General, the National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General, the HHS Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General and the FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phil Selden and Jennifer Sykes, who are prosecuting the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Salem who also helped investigate this case.

Contact ELIZABETH MORSE at (410) 209-4885       

St. Agnes Healthcare Agrees To Resolve False Claims Act Allegations Of Overbilling Medicare 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017                                        

Baltimore, Maryland – St. Agnes Healthcare has agreed to pay the United States $122,928 to resolve claims under the False Claims Act alleging that St. Agnes submitted false claims to Medicare by billing for evaluation and management (E&M) services at a higher reimbursement rate than the Federal health care programs allowed.

The settlement agreement was announced today by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning and Special Agent in Charge Nick DiGuilio of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services.

In June 2011, St. Agnes acquired a medical practice consisting of twelve cardiologists who were formerly members of MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates. The twelve cardiologists became employees of St. Agnes and continued to provide services to their patients through Maryland Cardiovascular Specialists, a specialty practice affiliated with St. Agnes. Medicare permits a higher rate of reimbursement for E&M services provided to new patients as opposed to E&M services provided to established patients. A new patient is defined as a patient who has not received any professional services from the physician or physician group practice within the previous three years.

According to the settlement agreement, the United States contends that for E&M services rendered from June 3, 2011 through June 3, 2014 by the twelve cardiologists who became St. Agnes’ employees, St. Agnes improperly submitted or caused to be submitted claims to Medicare using CPT codes 99201-99205 (new patient E&M codes) when CPT codes 99211-99215 (existing patient E&M codes) should have been used. By using the new patient codes as opposed to the existing patient codes, St. Agnes improperly received more reimbursement than it was entitled to under Medicare.

The civil settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act by Jonathan Safren, a former cardiologist employed by St. Agnes (United States ex rel Jonathan Safren v. St. Agnes Healthcare., Case No. ELH-16-2537 (D. Md.)). The False Claims Act permits private parties to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and obtain a portion of the government’s recovery. As part of today’s resolution, Dr. Safren will receive $20,000. The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Corcoran and Jane Andersen who handled the case.

Contact ELIZABETH MORSE at (410) 209-4885