Woman Sentenced To Over Four Years In Prison For Defrauding Medicare Of $11 Million In Fraudulent Billing Scheme
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A woman who defrauded the Medicare program of $11.1 million in a fraudulent medical equipment billing scheme, was sentenced today to 51 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and criminal forfeiture of $11.1 million in assets, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Alegria Phankonsy, 43, formerly of Orange County, Calif., but currently in custody, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson. Phankonsy pleaded guilty in November 2012 to one count of health care fraud and one count of tax evasion.
According to the indictment and the facts supporting the guilty plea, between about March 2005 and February 2010, Phankonsy operated several medical equipment supply companies in Las Vegas, Proforma Medical Source, Divine Health and Freemotion Plus Medical Supply. Phankonsy operated the first two companies using the alias’ Marie Villanueva and Marie Phan, respectively, and operated Freemotion using the name Phankonsy. Between about March 2005 and March 2010, Phankonsy fraudulently billed Medicare for medical equipment, such as leg prostheses and power wheelchairs that had not been ordered by a physician, were not needed by clients or were not provided to clients at all. To identify clients, Phankonsy paid “marketers” in southern California to obtain patients for her various companies. The marketers provided these clients with money in exchange for their Medicare information, which was used to bill Medicare for the unnecessary items or items not provided. The scheme resulted in Phankonsy receiving $11.1 million to which she was not entitled.
For the tax years 2006, 2007, and 2008, Phankonsy prepared and submitted false individual income tax returns by underreporting the income she earned from the Medicare fraud scheme. During those three years, Phankonsy underreported approximately $7.8 million in gross receipts, resulting in a total tax loss of approximately $2.4 million. Phankonsy also appended fraudulent W-2 forms to her returns and falsely represented that she had made significant estimated tax payments, when she had not.
The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for Health and Human Services and IRS Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Crane M. Pomerantz.
Today's announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys' offices and state and local partners, it's the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.