Owner of Home Health Care Company Sentenced to 75 Months in Prison in $6.5 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
The owner and operator of a Miami home health care company was sentenced to 75 months in prison today for her participation in a $6.5 million Medicare fraud scheme involving the now defunct home health care company, Nestor’s Health Services Inc. (Nestor Home Health).
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office, made the announcement. U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence.
Cruz Sonia Collado, 64, of Homestead, Florida, was an owner and operator of Nestor Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. On June 23, 2014, Collado pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to offer and pay health care kickbacks and to defraud the United States, and one count of offering and paying health care kickbacks. In addition to her prison term, Collado was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $6,536,657 in restitution.
According to court documents, Collado paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for the recruiters providing patients to Nestor Home Health for home health care and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and, in many instances, not provided. Collado then fraudulently billed the Medicare program for home health care services on behalf of the recruited patients.
From March 2009 through at least January 2014, Nestor Home Health submitted more than $6.5 million in false claims for home health services. Medicare paid Nestor Home Health more than $6.1 million for these fraudulent claims.
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 Anne P. McNamara and A. Brendan Stewart 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 nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 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.