Chicago-Area Psychologist Pleads in Nationwide Medicare Fraud Strike Force Takedown
CHICAGO—An area psychologist pled guilty today to engaging in a health care fraud scheme to defraud the Medicare program, federal law enforcement officials announced today. SHARON A. RINALDI, a licensed psychologist, was charged in a five-count indictment returned in October 2012 with defrauding Medicare by submitting thousands of false claims for providing psychotherapy services to Medicare beneficiaries residing in skilled nursing homes in the Chicago area. Rinaldi submitted false claims to Medicare seeking a total reimbursement of approximately $1.1 million and as a result of those false claims, Medicare paid Rinaldi at least $447,155 in funds to which she was not entitled. Rinaldi, 60, of Inverness, pled to one count of health care fraud before U.S. District Court Judge Robert M. Dow. Rinaldi also has agreed to forfeit of more than $100,000 that was seized from her home and a personal bank account in September 2012.
According to the plea, between December 2008 and August 2012, Rinaldi claimed that she provided services to Medicare beneficiaries who were deceased at the time; that she provided services on certain dates when she was in other locations, such as Las Vegas and San Diego; and she inflated the number of hours that she had provided services on particular dates, often exceeding 24 hours in a single day.
Health care fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and restitution is mandatory. Upon a conviction, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The plea was announced today by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago; and Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the HHS-OIG.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Tzur.