Three Operators of Miami Home Health Company Plead Guilty in $60 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Department of Justice December 20, 2011|
WASHINGTON—Three operators of a Miami health care agency pleaded guilty yesterday for their participation in a $60 million home health Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Roberto Gonzalez, 61, Olga Gonzalez, 57, and their son, Fabian Gonzalez, 39, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to the court documents, Roberto Gonzalez was the president and Olga Gonzalez was the vice president of Nany Home Health Inc., a Florida home health agency that purported to provide home health care and physical therapy services to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. Their son, Fabian, was head of the Quality and Assurance Department for Nany.
According to plea documents, the Gonzalezes conspired with patient recruiters, including Miami-area “staffing agencies,” for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for unnecessary home health care and therapy services. These recruiters and “staffing agencies” recruited patients to Nany, and provided prescriptions, Plans of Care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services for Medicare beneficiaries. In return, the Gonzalezes and their co-conspirators paid these staffing agencies and patient recruiters kickbacks and bribes. The Gonzaleses then used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for home health care services, knowing that their behavior violated federal criminal laws.
According to plea documents, nurses and office staff at Nany falsified patient files, including by documenting non-existent “symptoms” for Medicare beneficiaries to make it appear that the beneficiaries qualified for home health care and therapy services when, in fact, the beneficiaries did not actually qualify for such services. The fictitious symptoms, which suggested that the patients were unable to self-inject insulin and were homebound, formed the basis for the false claims for home health care benefits and medically unnecessary therapy filed under the Medicare program.
From approximately January 2006 through November 2009, Roberto, Olga and Fabian Gonzalez, and their co-conspirators submitted approximately $60 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicare paid approximately $40 million on those claims.
The pleas were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the 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 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 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 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.