Local Home Health Care Agency Owners and Their Patient Recruiter Plead Guilty in Health Care Fraud Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 16, 2011|
DALLAS—Four owners of Alliance Healthcare Services, L.P., a Dallas home health care agency, and one patient recruiter for the agency, have pleaded guilty to their participation in a scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid of approximately $1 million. This case is the first case to be prosecuted by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in Dallas.
The pleas were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Casey, Jr., of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Regional Office of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Ollie Futrell, 56, of Garland, Texas, a patient recruiter for Alliance, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Last week, Alliance owners Ernest Amadi, 53, and his wife, Edith Amadi, 49, both of Wylie, Texas, and George Opurum, 60, and his wife, Agatha Opurum, 53, both of Richardson, Texas, each pleaded guilty to the same offense. Each faces a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. Ernest and Edith Amadi are scheduled to be sentenced on April 19, 2012. George and Agatha Opurum are scheduled to be sentenced on April 5, 2012. Ollie Futrell is set for sentencing on April 26, 2012. All sentencings will be before Judge Boyle.
According to court documents, Ernest Amadi was the chief executive officer of Alliance, which was located on Estate Lane in Dallas. George Opurum was the chief financial officer and alternate administrator of Alliance. Edith Amadi and Agatha Opurum were both nurses at Alliance.
As part of the conspiracy, from November 2008 through mid-February 2011, Alliance submitted claims to Medicare for home health services purportedly provided to Medicare beneficiaries. According to court documents, Alliance employees, including the owners, falsified Medicare documentation and skilled nursing notes indicating that the patients were homebound and eligible for home health care services. In fact, the majority of Alliance patients were not eligible for the services because they were not homebound. According to court documents, Alliance employees and owners falsified time sheets and patient visit logs for services that were not adequately rendered or were never provided at all. Alliance then billed Medicare as if the services were adequately provided
Further, according to documents filed in the case, Alliance owners conspired with Futrell to recruit Medicare patients for the company so Alliance could increase its Medicare billing and revenue. Futrell was paid cash by Alliance owners. She recruited Medicare beneficiaries in a variety of ways and initiated Alliance services for them. Futrell agreed to pay patients kickbacks so that they would continue to use Alliance. Often, she would pay patients $100 per month to continue to receive home health care from Alliance. Alliance owners knew about, and at times facilitated, these kickbacks.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Pfeifle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas and Trial Attorney Benjamin A. O’Neil of the Fraud Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. HHS-OIG, FBI and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 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 HEAT Strike Force, please visit: http://stopmedicarefraud.gov/