Four Detroit-area residents were arrested today by federal agents from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation into a $14.5 million home health care fraud scheme, announced the Departments of Justice and HHS.
In a two-count second superseding indictment returned on December 2, 2010, and unsealed yesterday, four additional individuals are alleged to have participated in a Medicare fraud scheme operated out of Patient Choice Home Healthcare (Patient Choice) and All American Home Care (All American), two Oakland County, Michigan, home health agencies that purported to provide in-home health services. Maira Suleman, 30; John Thomas, 32; Sherry Prescott, 50; and Myra Jones, 50, were each charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Pramod Raval, M.D., 57, who was previously charged with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, was also charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud in the indictment unsealed today.
Twenty-one individuals, including the four arrested today, have now been charged for their alleged roles in this health care fraud scheme. The original indictment was returned on January 12, 2010, with the first superseding indictment returned on July 13, 2010. To date, 10 individuals have pleaded guilty for their roles.
Superseding indictments occur when the government discovers addition information they did not have prior to issuing the original indictment. Typically, individuals included in an original indictment will attempt to work out a plea agreement with the government in exchange for names of others that may have been involved in the scheme. However, the trustworthiness of such claims is questionable, yet the government is permitted to use the information to indict others that are allegedly involved.
The indictment alleges that Medicare paid Patient Choice and All American more than $14.5 million for services that were medically unnecessary and/or not provided between August 2007 and September 2009. The charge of health care fraud conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charge of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine of up to $25,000.
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