WASHINGTON – A Detroit-area patient recruiter pleaded guilty today for his participation in a Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Daron Elder, 28, of Southfield, Mich., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow in the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. At sentencing, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the plea documents, Elder was a patient recruiter for a medical clinic in the Detroit area, Blessed Medical Clinic. Elder paid indigent Medicare beneficiaries cash kickbacks to receive diagnostic tests that he knew were medically unnecessary. In return for the cash kickbacks, the Medicare beneficiaries allowed their identification to be used in the submission of fraudulent claims. The government will argue at sentencing that Elder’s conduct caused the submission of approximately $2.5 million dollars in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
Today’s guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the 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 (OIG) Chicago Regional Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frances Lee Carlson and Philip A. Ross of the Eastern District of Michigan, with assistance from Assistant Chief 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 their inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine districts have charged more than 1,190 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $3.6 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, is 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.