Physician Pleads Guilty to Role in Detroit-Area Medicare Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 06, 2014|
WASHINGTON—A former Detroit-area physician pleaded guilty today to his role in an $11.5 million health care fraud scheme.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh, III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.
Jose Mercado-Francis, 60, formerly of Brownstown Township, Michigan, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds in the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to court documents, Mercado-Francis admitted that, beginning in approximately September 2009 and continuing through February 2012, he held himself out as a licensed physician and purported to provide physician home services to Medicare beneficiaries, when actually his medical license had been revoked and he was not licensed to practice medicine in Michigan.
Court documents allege that Mercado-Francis operated his scheme out of a medical practice known as House Calls Physicians P.L.L.C., which was located in Allen Park, Michigan, and owned by a co-conspirator. Mercado-Francis prepared medical documentation that licensed physicians signed as if they had provided services to Medicare beneficiaries, when, in fact, they had not. The services were then billed to Medicare as if the licensed physicians had performed them.
Court documents further allege that, between approximately May 2008 and October 2012, House Calls Physicians billed Medicare more than $11.5 million for the cost of physician home services. Of that amount, Dr. Mercado-Francis caused the submission of approximately $1.1 million in false and fraudulent physician services claims.
At sentencing, which will be scheduled at a later date, Mercado-Francis faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Matthew C. Thuesen of the Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, the HHS’s 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.