A Houston doctor has been arrested on charges related to her alleged participation in a $158 million Medicare fraud scheme involving false claims for mental health treatment.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Regional Office of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) made the announcement.
Sharon Iglehart, 56, of Houston, was charged in an indictment, filed in the Southern District of Texas and unsealed today, with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and four counts of health care fraud. If convicted, Iglehart faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each count. Iglehart was arrested on Dec. 16, 2013, and made her initial appearance in federal court in Houston today.
According to the indictment, Iglehart allegedly participated in a scheme to defraud Medicare beginning in 2005 and continuing until May 2012. The defendant allegedly caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims for partial hospitalization program (PHP) services to Medicare through a Houston hospital. A PHP is a form of intensive outpatient treatment for severe mental illness.
The indictment alleges that the defendant and her co-conspirators submitted or caused to be submitted approximately $158 million in claims to Medicare for PHP services purportedly provided by the hospital, when in fact the PHP services were medically unnecessary or never provided.
In February 2012, Mohammad Khan, an assistant administrator at the hospital who managed many of the hospital’s PHPs, was indicted for his role in the scheme. Khan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay illegal kickbacks, and five counts of paying illegal kickbacks. Khan has not yet been sentenced.
In October 2012, Earnest Gibson III, the administrator of the hospital, along with Earnest Gibson IV, William Bullock III, Robert Ferguson, Regina Askew, Leslie Clark and Robert Crane, were indicted for their roles in the scheme. Leslie Clark pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks. Clark has not yet been sentenced.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG, MFCU, Internal Revenue Service’s Houston Field Office, the Chicago Field Office of the Railroad Retirement Board’s Office of Inspector General, and the Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Inspector General and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Laura M.K. Cordova of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, the HHS 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 Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov .