A Texas woman will spend over 15 years in Federal prison after pleading guilty to her alleged involvement in a scheme to pay kickbacks to both doctors and Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for agreeing to bill for medically unnecessary home health care services.
The 54-year-old Houston resident was a patient recruiter and the operator of a home health agency in the area. Per investigators, she paid bribes and illegal kickbacks to both physicians and patients to obtain fraudulent paperwork that she used to bill Medicare. They say she was involved in between $9.5 million and $25 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
In addition, prosecutors say she was involved in money laundering in connection with the scheme. As a Nigerian national, they say she opened a bank account under a different identity and moved the funds into that account to mask its origin. Additionally, prosecutors say she used a portion of the laundered funds to buy a home.
Last week Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas sentenced the defendant to 188 months in Federal prison on her guilty plea of one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. She was also ordered to pay $12.9 million in restitution and to forfeit $1,378,552.
Charges in the case were brought by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is a partnership between the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. To date the Strike Force has charged almost 4,000 defendants with a combined total of over $14 billion in alleged Medicare fraud.