Owners of two home health agencies, a doctor, and a hospital employee who sold patient information were all sentenced today for their roles in an $3 million Medicare fraud scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Cardwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson for 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 HHS’s Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) made the announcement.
Valnita Turner, 48, Valdie Jackson, 43, Dr. Nick Patzakis, 86, and Jarvis Thomas, 40, were all sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Gray Miller in the Southern District of Texas.
On October 7, 2013, Valnita Turner, owner of Houston Compassionate Care, Inc., was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and four counts of health care fraud. According to court documents, Turner and Valdie Jackson, owner of Jackson Home Healthcare, Inc., purchased stolen patient information from Jarvis Thomas, a hospital administrative employee. Turner and Jackson used the stolen patient information to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare for home health services purportedly provided by three home health agencies operating in the Houston area, Houston Compassionate Care, Inc., Jackson Home Healthcare, Inc., and Prestige Health Services, Inc.. Turner and Jackson also fraudulently billed Medicare for medically unnecessary home health services that were never ordered by a doctor and relied on doctors, including Dr. Nick Patzakis, to falsely sign medical documents.
Valnita Turner was sentenced to serve 151 months in prison. In addition to her prison term, Turner was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $3,011,899.09 in restitution, jointly and severally with her co-defendants.
Valdie Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on September 13, 2013. Jackson was sentenced to serve 12 months and one day in prison. In addition to his prison term, Jackson was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $1,551,482.21 in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants.
Dr. Nick Patzakis pleaded guilty to one count of false statements relating to health care matters on September 20, 2013. Dr. Patzakis was sentenced to time served and three years of supervised release. In addition, Dr. Patzakis was ordered to pay $95,947.57 in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants.
Jarvis Thomas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to disclose individually identifiable health information on September 13, 2013. Thomas was sentenced to time served and three years of supervised release. Additionally, Thomas was ordered to pay $1,348,644.75 in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Chief Robert Zink and Trial Attorneys Christopher Cestaro and Ashlee Caligone McFarlane of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and MFCU 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 Southern District of Texas.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with 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 .