Operators of Health Care Company Convicted of Fraud and Kickbacks
BATON ROUGE, LA—United States Attorney Walt Green announced that IMEH U. EBERE, age 55, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and SHEILA R. HIVES, age 51, of Baker, Louisiana, have each been convicted of health care fraud offenses in connection with their roles at Golden Medical Equipment & Supply, Inc. (“Golden”), a Baton Rouge-based company that provided durable medical equipment in the Baton Rouge area since 2003.
In 2012, a federal grand jury indicted EBERE and HIVES, charging them with a variety of offenses arising out of a fraudulent scheme through which EBERE and Golden submitted false reimbursement claims to Medicare for enteral nutrition that Golden had purportedly provided to Medicare beneficiaries. Enteral nutrition is designed for individuals who suffer from health conditions that prevent food from reaching the digestive tract, therefore preventing the individuals from maintaining their weight and strength. Enteral nutrition is administered via a feeding tube.
Yesterday, on July 29, 2014, EBERE pled guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. EBERE faces up to ten (10) years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or gross loss derived from her offense. EBERE will also be required to forfeit the proceeds of her crime. In her plea agreement with the United States, EBERE admitted that, through her company, she submitted numerous fraudulent claims to Medicare for enteral nutrition related products that she had purportedly provided to Medicare beneficiaries, even though the beneficiaries did not have feeding tubes and therefore did not need enteral nutrition and did not qualify for it. EBERE admitted that, from September 2003 through November 2011, through Golden Medical, she submitted approximately $800,000 in enteral nutrition related claims alone. Judge Jackson scheduled EBERE’s sentencing for November 20, 2014.
On July 23, 2014, HIVES pled guilty before Chief Judge Jackson to receiving health care kickbacks, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1320a-7b(b)(1)(A). HIVES faces a maximum possible sentence of five (5) years in prison and a fine of $250,000. HIVES will also be required to forfeit the proceeds of her crime. In her plea agreement, HIVES admitted that she received illegal kickbacks from EBERE to induce HIVES to refer Medicare beneficiaries to EBERE and Golden Medical. Judge Jackson scheduled HIVES’s sentencing for November 7, 2014.
The case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHH-OIG), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Louisiana State Attorney General’s Office (MFCU), and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shubhra Shivpuri, with assistance from DOJ Trial Attorney Dustin M. Davis.