New Orleans Woman Convicted of Conspiracy, Identity Theft and False Statement Charges for Role in $2.1 Million Medicare Kickback Scheme
A federal jury found a New Orleans woman guilty of conspiracy, identity theft and false statements charges for her role in an approximately $2.1 million Medicare kickback scheme.Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the Office of Inspector General – Health and Human Services Dallas Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Jeff Sallet of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office made the announcement.
After a two-day trial, Kim Ricard, age 51, of New Orleans, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks in connection with Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, Ricard was convicted of three counts of accepting kickbacks, along with three counts of identity theft and one count of making false statements to federal agents. Sentencing has been scheduled for December 7, before U.S. District Judge Jane Milazzo of the Eastern District of Louisiana, who presided over the trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, from 2008 to 2013, Ricard and others engaged in a scheme to refer mentally ill Medicare patients to home health agencies in and around New Orleans, in exchange for kickbacks. The evidence further established that Ricard unlawfully used the Medicare identification information of three Medicare beneficiaries in connection with the scheme. Ricard then lied to investigators, the evidence showed.
As a result of the scheme, Ricard’s co-conspirator caused Medicare to pay over $2.1 million based on those illegally-obtained referrals
One other defendant was charged in this matter. Milton Diaz, 65, of Harvey, Louisiana, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
This case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the FBI. Trial Attorneys Claire Yan and Kate Payerle of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 3,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $12.5 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & 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.
[Source: U.S. Department of Justice: -/- Media relations]
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