A patient broker of a South Florida psychiatric hospital was sentenced today to serve 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for her participation in a $67 million Medicare fraud scheme.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations’ Miami Office made the announcement.
Gloria Himmons, 54, of Union Springs, Ala., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in the Southern District of Florida. In March 2013, Himmons pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to receive health care kickbacks and one count of receiving a health care kickback. In addition to her prison term, Himmons was ordered to pay $14 million in restitution, joint and severally with her co-defendants.
According to court documents, Himmons was a patient broker at Hollywood Pavilion LLC (HP), a state-licensed psychiatric hospital in South Florida that purported to offer both inpatient and outpatient mental health services. Himmons would provide Medicare beneficiaries to HP in exchange for bribes and kickbacks, and she knew that the patients she provided to HP were not appropriate for inpatient psychiatric hospitalization or for outpatient mental health treatment. The patients she provided to HP included those who were not severely mentally ill, as well as substance abusers looking for rehabilitation programs. The patients did not have legitimate referrals from hospitals or doctors who had been treating acute-phase, severe mental illness.
From at least 2005 through September 2012, in exchange for bribes and kickbacks, Himmons knowingly and willfully provided to HP Medicare beneficiaries who did not need inpatient or outpatient psychiatric treatment. As a result of Himmons’s participation in this scheme, HP was improperly paid more than $7 million by Medicare. From at least 2003 through at least August 2012, HP billed Medicare approximately $67 million for services that were not properly rendered, for patients that did not qualify for the services being billed, and for claims for patients who were procured through bribes and kickbacks. Medicare reimbursed HP on approximately $40 million of those claims.
On Sept. 10, 2013, co-defendants Karen Kallen-Zury, Daisy Miller and Christian Coloma were sentenced on their June 2013 jury convictions. Kallen-Zury, the chief executive officer of HP, and Miller and Coloma were convicted on all counts at trial and sentenced to 300 months, 180 months and 144 months, respectively. Kallen-Zury and Miller were ordered to pay, jointly and severally with their co-defendants, nearly $40 million in restitution. Coloma was ordered to pay, jointly and severally, more than $20 million in restitution.
This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG 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 Miami. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Robert A. Zink and Trial Attorneys Andrew H. Warren and Anne McNamara of the Fraud Section.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $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 Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.