WASHINGTON – An owner of a Detroit-area medical clinic was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for her role in a $1.12 million Medicare fraud scheme, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.
Maria Haber, 46, an owner of CompleteHealth LLC, also was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Duggan in the Eastern District of Michigan to three years of supervised release following her prison term and was ordered to pay $ 1,004,343 in restitution, jointly and severally with other defendants in the case.
Haber pleaded guilty on Oct. 27, 2010, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. She was one of 10 individuals charged in connection with a fraudulent diagnostic testing scheme operating at CompleteHealth and Ritecare LLC, another related clinic. Co-defendants Emilio Haber, Genna Yates, Alejandro Haber, Grant Johnson, Darrell Nichols, Elizabeth Egan, Hans Lobato, Emma King and Melvin Young previously pleaded guilty to health care fraud conspiracy for their roles in the scheme.
According to court documents, Haber incorporated a limited liability company called CompleteHealth on Sept. 20, 2007, which purported to provide primary care services at a facility in Livonia, Mich. Haber signed the provider application submitted by CompleteHealth to enroll in the Medicare program and admitted that she helped operate the clinic.
Haber admitted that she and her co-conspirators, including her then-husband Emilio Haber, billed Medicare for medically unnecessary tests and services. Haber admitted in court documents that she obtained patients for CompleteHealth by paying kickbacks to driver recruiters and directly to Medicare beneficiaries. Haber and her co-conspirators typically paid patient recruiters $100-$150 per patient, with $50-$75 going to the patient in exchange for visiting CompleteHealth and subjecting themselves to medically unnecessary tests.
According to court documents, Haber’s co-conspirators instructed the patient recruiters to have the patients feign certain symptoms to justify the medically unnecessary tests. The kickbacks paid to the recruiters and the patients were contingent upon the Medicare beneficiaries identifying the symptoms necessary to justify the medically unnecessary tests reflected in the patients’ medical records. The fraudulent conduct continued at Ritecare after CompleteHealth merged with it in June 2008.
Today’s sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade; Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the HHS Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Gejaa T. Gobena 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 Eastern District of Michigan.
Since its inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine districts have obtained indictments of 1,000 defendants that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $2.3 billion. In addition, HHS’s 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 Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov .