SoCal Woman Sentenced to 13 Years in Federal Prison in Medicare Fraud Scheme Involving Durable Medical Equipment
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 28, 2013|
LOS ANGELES—A Carson woman has been sentenced to 156 months in federal prison in an $8 million Medicare fraud case in which she illegally paid kickbacks for referrals to patients whose beneficiary information was used to make bogus claims to the government health care program.
Uben Ogbu Rush, 54, received the 13-year sentence yesterday afternoon from United States District Judge George H. King.
During yesterday’s hearing, Judge King said Rush was motivated by greed and the lengthy sentence was necessary, in part, to send a message of deterrence to others who might commit crimes against Medicare.
Rush owned or controlled six companies that ostensibly sold durable medical equipment, such as motorized wheelchairs and powered pressure-reducing mattresses. The companies were located in Carson, Gardena, Torrance, and Paramount.
At a trial in November 2011, federal prosecutors showed a jury how Rush paid marketers to recruit Medicare beneficiaries who would allow their identities and Medicare numbers to be used for the submission of false claims. The evidence also showed how Rush paid kickbacks to marketers, who in turn paid kickbacks to doctors who fraudulently wrote prescriptions, even though the physicians had not examined the patients or an examination revealed that the medical equipment was not medically necessary.
During the course of a scheme that ran from 1999 until 2008, Rush submitted more than $15 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare seeking payment for motorized wheelchairs, hospital beds, air pressure mattresses, and other items for patients who did not need the equipment. Medicare paid more than $8.1 on the bogus claims.
A co-defendant in the case, Carlos Alberto Rezabala, 60, of Downey, was sentenced by Judge King in June 2012 to 41 months in federal prison. Rezabala was a recruiter who brought Medicare beneficiaries into the scheme so their information could be used to submit fraudulent bills.
Another co-defendant, Phitsamay Syvoravong, 58, of Orange County, another recruiter who brought Medicare beneficiaries into the scheme, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge King on May 20.
A related defendant, Dr. Alfred Glover, 57, of Playa Vista, testified at trial that he was paid for writing fraudulent prescriptions for Medicare beneficiaries, many of whom he never saw. Glover is schedule to be sentenced on May 28.
The investigation into Rush and her Medicare fraud scheme was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.