The owners and operators of two Miami health care agencies were sentenced to nine years and more than four years in prison today, respectively, and ordered to pay millions in restitution for their participation in a $48 million home health Medicare fraud scheme that billed for unnecessary home health care and therapy services.
The sentences, imposed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida, were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.
U.S. District Judge Frederico A. Moreno sentenced Rogelio Rodriguez, 43, and Raymond Aday, 48, both of the Miami-Dade area, to 108 months and 51 months in prison, respectively. In addition to the prison term, Judge Moreno sentenced Rodriguez to pay $33 million in restitution, and Aday to pay $2.1 million in restitution. Both defendants were also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and pay a $100,000 fine. In December 2012, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to court documents, Rodriguez was the owner of both Caring Nurse Home Health Corp. and Good Quality Home Health Inc., and Aday was a manager at Caring Nurse and owner of Good Quality.
According to plea documents, Rodriguez and Aday conspired with patient recruiters for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for unnecessary home health care and therapy services. Rodriguez, Aday and their co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters. In return, recruiters provided patients to Caring Nurse and Good Quality, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Rodriguez and Aday used these prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill the Medicare program for home health care services, which both Rodriguez and Aday knew was in violation of federal criminal laws.
According to court documents, nurses and office staff at Caring Nurse and Good Quality falsified patient files to make it appear the Medicare beneficiaries qualified for services they did not. Rodriguez admitted to knowing that these files were falsified so the Medicare program could be billed for medically unnecessary therapy and home health related services.
From approximately January 2006 through June 2011, Caring Nurse and Good Quality submitted approximately $48 million in claims for home health services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided. According to court documents, Medicare paid approximately $33 million for these fraudulent claims.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.