WASHINGTON – Three operators of a Miami health care agency were sentenced today to 120, 87 and 87 months in prison, respectively, for their participation in a $60 million home health Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro in Miami sentenced Roberto Gonzalez to 120 months in prison, Olga Gonzalez to 87 months in prison and Fabian Gonzalez to 87 months in prison. Each defendant was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $40 million in restitution, jointly and severally with co-defendants.
Roberto, Olga and Fabian Gonzalez each pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to the court documents, Roberto Gonzalez, 61, was the president and Olga Gonzalez, 57, was the vice president of Nany Home Health Inc., a Florida home health agency that purported to provide home health care and physical therapy services to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. Fabian Gonzalez, 39, was head of the Quality and Assurance Department for Nany.
According to plea documents, the defendants conspired with patient recruiters, including Miami-area staffing agencies, for the purpose of billing the Medicare program for unnecessary home health care and therapy services. The staffing agencies functioned as patient recruiters and provided patients to Nany. The Gonzalezes and their co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters and the staffing agencies in return for providing patients to Nany, as well as prescriptions, plans of care (POCs) and certifications for medically unnecessary therapy and home health services for Medicare beneficiaries.
The Gonzalezes used the prescriptions, POCs and medical certifications to fraudulently bill Medicare for home health care services, which the Gonzalezes knew was in violation of federal criminal laws.
According to court documents, Nany nurses and office staff falsified patient files for Medicare beneficiaries to make it appear that the beneficiaries qualified for home health care and therapy services from Nany when, in fact, the Gonzalezes knew that the beneficiaries did not qualify for and did not receive such services. The nurses and office staff at Nany described in the nursing notes and patient files symptoms that were non-existent. The Gonzalezes knew that these files were falsified so that Medicare could be billed for medically unnecessary services.
From approximately January 2006 through November 2009, Roberto, Olga and Fabian Gonzalez, and their co-conspirators submitted approximately $60 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, and Medicare paid approximately $40 million on those claims.
The pleas were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph S. Beemsterboer 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 Southern District of Miami.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,190 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $3.6 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.