Office Worker Pleads Guilty in Miami to Role in $7 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme
WASHINGTON—An office worker pleaded guilty today in connection with a health care fraud scheme involving Anna Nursing Services Corp. (Anna Nursing), a defunct home health care company.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian Martens of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office made the announcement.
Lizette Garcia, 37, of Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard in the Southern District of Florida to one count of payment of health care kickbacks. Sentencing is scheduled for August 27, 2014.
Garcia was an office worker at Anna Nursing, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. According to court documents, Anna Nursing was operated for the purpose of billing the Medicare Program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were medically unnecessary and/or were not provided.
On behalf of the owners and operators of Anna Nursing, Garcia paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for the recruiters providing patients to Anna Nursing for home health care and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and/or were not provided. Anna Nursing then billed the Medicare program on behalf of the recruited patients, which Garcia knew was in violation of federal criminal laws.
From approximately October 2010 through approximately April 2013, Anna Nursing was paid by Medicare approximately $7 million for fraudulent claims for home health care services that were medically unnecessary and/or were not provided.
The case was 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 Southern District of Florida. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys A. Brendan Stewart and Anne McNamara of the Criminal Division’s 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 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, has removed over 17,000 providers from the Medicare program since 2011.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.