Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Owner and Employee of Miami Home Health Company Sentenced to Prison in $22 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

The owner and an employee of a Miami home health care agency were sentenced today to 108 months and 46 months in prison, respectively, for their participation in a $22 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in Miami sentenced Marietha Morales, 38, to 108 months in prison and Eduardo Saborit-Dominguez, 48, to 46 months in prison. Both defendants were each sentenced to three years of supervised release. In addition, Morales was ordered to pay $14 million in restitution and Dominugez was ordered to pay $2 million in restitution, jointly and severally with each other.

Last year, Morales pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and Dominguez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive and pay health care kickbacks.

Morales was the president and Dominguez was an employee of Prime Home Health Services Inc., a Florida home health agency that purported to provide home health care and physical therapy services to eligible Medicare beneficiaries.

According to plea documents, Morales conspired with patient recruiters for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for unnecessary home health care and therapy services. Morales and her co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for the recruiters providing patients to Prime Home Health, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs), and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Dominguez distributed the kickbacks and bribes to co-conspirator patient recruiters and knew that the payment of kickbacks and bribes was in violation of federal criminal laws. Morales used these prescriptions, POCs, and medical certifications to fraudulently bill Medicare for home health care services, which Morales knew was in violation of federal criminal laws.

According to plea documents, nurses and office staff at Prime Home Health falsified patient files for Medicare beneficiaries to make it appear that such beneficiaries qualified for home health care and therapy services. Morales admitted that she knew the beneficiaries did not actually qualify for and did not receive such services. Morales knew that these files were falsified so that Medicare could be billed for medically unnecessary therapy and home health related services.

From approximately February 2005 through April 2011, Morales and her co-conspirators submitted approximately $22 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare. Medicare actually paid approximately $14 million on those claims.

The sentences were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. 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.

Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,330 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and 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.

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