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Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer Speaks at Medicare Fraud Strike Force Press Conference
Brooklyn, N.Y. ~ Friday, July 16, 2010

Thank you, Loretta.

As Loretta said, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services are announcing today the latest – and most significant – successes to date of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

We have been so pleased to partner with you and this U.S. Attorney’s Office in this tremendous effort. We truly have an outstanding partnership.

Earlier this morning in Miami, Attorney General Holder and HHS Secretary Sebelius announced the results of a nationwide takedown by the HEAT Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

The results are unprecedented. We are announcing charges against 94 defendants in Brooklyn, Miami, Baton Rouge, Detroit and Houston for their roles in various Medicare fraud schemes.

Together, these schemes led to the submission of more than $251 million in false Medicare claims – billing for medical equipment and services that were medically unnecessary and in some cases, never provided. Of course these are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Here in Brooklyn, 22 individuals are charged with fraudulently bilking the American taxpayer of approximately $78 million.

In one $70 million scheme operated out of a Brooklyn clinic, more than 1,000 cash kickbacks were allegedly paid to beneficiaries out of a designated "kickback room."

Our undercover investigation of the clinic showed beneficiaries literally lining up to receive their illegal payments in the kickback room. A posted sign inside the room showed a woman with her finger to her lips warning in Russian, "Don’t Gossip."

This was a meticulously executed scheme – complete with sign-in sheets for beneficiaries, minimum visit requirements before the first kickback payment and strategic determinations on which treatments and services should be billed to Medicare. It was meticulous – and illegal.

And it was carried out allegedly with the help of some beneficiaries. Court-authorized audio and video recordings reveal one beneficiary with the audacity to ask which treatments would be worth $100. In another instance, a different beneficiary asks for payment for referring two new "patients" to the clinic.

This scheme – executed right here in Brooklyn – is just one of the many outrageous schemes we see undertaken by those willing to steal valuable American taxpayer dollars. These hard-earned dollars are meant to support vital services to those most in need.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force simply will not allow criminals to pillage the Medicare system and line their pockets at our expense.

We are using aggressive and innovative techniques in our investigations. Real-time data analysis allows us to focus our resources where the fraud is the most egregious. And undercover operations, wire taps and other lawful covert tactics allow us to investigate and stop these schemes as they are happening. I can promise that you will see more of these kinds of proactive efforts on our part.

Already, our Strike Force operations have yielded tremendous results. Since its inception in 2007, Strike Force operations have led to charges against more than 810 defendants who falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $1.85 billion.

And each and every day, we continue to develop new strategies to combat health care fraud. Today in Miami, Attorney General Holder and Secretary Sebelius are participating in the first of a series of regional summits on health care fraud prevention to discuss innovative ways to eliminate health care fraud.

As criminals become more creative and sophisticated, we intend to be right at their heels.

Let me end by speaking directly to anyone currently running or considering operating a Medicare fraud scheme. To Medicare fraudsters, take notice of today’s charges and the law enforcement resources used to bring these schemes down.

Our prosecutors and agents are working day and night to find and stop your schemes in their tracks. As today’s charges show, we are very capable of doing just that.

I’d now like to turn it back over to U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

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