Three patient recruiters for a Miami health care company pleaded guilty today for their participation in a $48 million home health Medicare fraud scheme.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach 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 made the announcement.
Miami residents Marianela Martinez, 45; Omar Hernandez, 48; and Celia Santovenia, 49, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham in the Southern District of Florida to one count each of conspiracy to receive health care kickbacks. Sentencing has been scheduled for Feb. 11, 2014.
According to court documents, Martinez, Hernandez and Santovenia were patient recruiters who worked for Caring Nurse Home Health Care Corp., and Santovenia also worked for Good Quality Home Health Care Inc. Caring Nurse and Good Quality were Miami home health care agencies that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.
From approximately January 2006 through June 2011, the defendants would recruit patients for Caring Nurse and/or Good Quality and would solicit and receive kickbacks and bribes from the owners and operators of Caring Nurse and/or Good Quality in return for allowing the agency to bill the Medicare program on behalf of the recruited patients. These Medicare beneficiaries were billed for home health care and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and/or not provided.
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