Medicare Fraud Strike Force Operations in Brooklyn Lead to Charges Against Two Individuals
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 15, 2009|
BROOKLYN, NY—Medicare fraud charges have been filed against two individuals as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a multi-agency initiative designed to combat and prosecute Medicare fraud in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere around the country where high rates of fraud have been identified, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Benton J. Campbell for the Eastern District of New York; and Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today. The Departments of Justice and HHS today announced the expansion of Strike Force operations to Brooklyn, New York; Tampa, Florida; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
In an indictment unsealed today, Parke Levy, 47, owner of Americare In Home LLC (Americare) and Lorraine Levy, 78, the director of customer service at Americare, were each charged with participating in a scheme to submit claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment. Parke Levy, of Brooklyn, and Lorraine Levy, of Coconut Creek, Fla., are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and eight counts of health care fraud.
According to the indictment, Americare purported to provide diabetic supplies, including shoes and custom-made inserts, as well as other equipment to Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare covered up to one pair of diabetic shoes and three pairs of inserts annually for each patient, provided that the items were medically necessary, as determined by the treating physician; that a physician signed a certification that the patient was diabetic; that the patient had a specified condition, such as a foot ulcer, foot deformity, or poor circulation; and that the doctor had treated the patient under a comprehensive plan of care for diabetes. Medicare covered two types of shoe inserts: a high-end heat-molded insert, and a low-end pressure molded insert. Medicare did not reimburse for inserts which were not custom molded.
Parke and Lorraine Levy allegedly would solicit Medicare beneficiaries in order for Americare to provide them with diabetic supplies, including “free” shoes and inserts every year, even if they were not medically necessary. According to the indictment, Parke Levy and others would meet with Medicare beneficiaries to measure their feet using a measuring stick or ruler. Parke Levy and Lorraine Levy would then allegedly submit or cause to be submitted false Medicare claims for three pairs of custom molded inserts, when in fact only off-the-shelf inserts had been provided to beneficiaries.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Katherine Houston of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI; HHS Office of the Inspector General; Department of Labor Office, of the Inspector General; and the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Since the inception of Strike Force operations in March 2007—Miami (Phase One), Los Angeles (Phase Two), Detroit (Phase Three), Houston (Phase Four) and Brooklyn (Phase Five)—the Strike Force has obtained indictments of more than 460 individuals and organizations that collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than one billion dollars.
In addition, 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.
Each of the Strike Force teams across the separate phases is led by a federal prosecutor from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section or the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Each team has an agent from the FBI and HHS-OIG.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov