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Sixteen individuals, including three doctors and one licensed physical therapist, are charged in Los Angeles with participating in various fraud schemes involving a total of $53.8 million in false billings. In one case, four defendants are charged for allegedly participating in a fraud scheme at Alpha Ambulance Inc., which led to approximately $49.2 million in fraudulent billing for ambulance transportation. The case represents the largest ambulance fraud scheme ever prosecuted by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. According to court documents, the defendants provided beneficiaries ambulance rides that were medically unnecessary.
In Dallas, 14 individuals - including two doctors and two registered nurses - are charged for their alleged participation in various fraud schemes involving a total of $103.3 million in false billings. In one case, three defendants - a medical doctor and two registered nurses - are charged with participating in a fraud scheme at Raphem Medical Practice and PTM Healthcare Services which led to approximately $100 million in fraudulent billing for home health care services.
According to court documents, Dr. Joseph Megwa signed approximately 33,000 prescriptions for more than 2,000 unique Medicare beneficiaries from 2006 to 2011. Many of these Medicare beneficiaries had primary care physicians who never certified home healthcare services for them. In order to handle the volume of prescriptions, Megwa allegedly signed stacks of documents without reviewing them.
Seven individuals are charged in Houston for their participation in a fraud scheme at a hospital which led to $158 million in fraudulent billing for community mental health center services. According to court documents, the defendants who served as administrators at the hospital paid kickbacks - in the form of cigarettes, food and coupons redeemable for items available at the hospital's "country stores" - to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for those beneficiaries' attendance at the hospital's partial hospitalization programs (PHP). Allegedly, beneficiaries watched television, played games and engaged in other non-PHP activities rather than receiving the services for which the hospital billed Medicare. Previously, on Feb. 22, the assistant administrator of the hospital, Mohammad Kahn, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and paying kickbacks related to $116 million worth of fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare. After his guilty plea, an additional $42 million in fraudulent claims were discovered that are included in today's totals.
In Brooklyn, 15 individuals, including one doctor and four chiropractors, are charged for their alleged participation in various fraud schemes involving a total of $23.2 million in false billings. In one case, nine defendants, including a medical doctor, are charged with participating in a fraud scheme at Cropsey Medical Care PLLC which led to approximately $13.8 million in fraudulent billing for physical therapy and related services. According to court documents, the defendants paid cash kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for physical therapy that was not medically necessary and in some occasions never provided to beneficiaries.
In Baton Rouge, four defendants, including a licensed practical nurse, are charged for their roles in fraud schemes involving approximately $2.4 million in false claims for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment.
In Chicago, two defendants, including a dermatologist and a psychologist, are charged for their roles in fraud schemes involving, according to court documents, millions of dollars in false claims for medically unnecessary laser treatments and psychotherapy services.
The cases announced Thursday are being prosecuted and investigated by Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams comprising attorneys from the Fraud Section of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and from the US Attorneys' Offices for the Southern District of Florida, the Southern District of Texas, the Northern District of Texas, the Central District of California, the Middle District of Louisiana, the Northern District of Illinois, and the Eastern District of New York, and agents from the FBI, HHS-OIG and state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, with assistance from the Justice Department's Civil Division and the IRS.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictments are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
posted October 5, 2012 7:20 am edt