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Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-060

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

OWNER OF HOME HEALTH AGENCY SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON IN MEDICARE FRAUD CASE


Los Angeles, CA - The owner of a home health agency in Monrovia has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for defrauding Medicare by billing for services that were not needed and, in some cases, were never performed.

Nida Campanilla, a 45-year-old Los Angeles resident, was sentenced Monday afternoon by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess. In addition to the prison term, Judge Feess ordered Campanilla to pay just over $600,000 in restitution to Medicare, an amount that Campanilla paid on Monday.

Campanilla operated Community Home and Health Care Services from May 2003 until August 2004, when Medicare suspended payments to Community. By pleading guilty, Campanilla admitted that she engaged in a scheme in which Community recruited patients for unnecessary services by paying illegal kickbacks, directly and through marketers, to doctors and to patients. Community then billed Medicare for home health services that were not medically necessary and, in some cases, not performed as claimed on the bills. Campanilla and others at Community also forged physician's signatures and falsified medical records to conceal the fraud.

In addition to Campanilla, two employees of Community have been charged with health care fraud. Bienvenida Musngi, a 60-year-old registered nurse from Altadena, who served as the director of patient care services at Community, pleaded guilty in January and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 30. Catherine Sabalburo, a 33-year-old licensed vocational nurse from Baldwin Hills, who was responsible for quality assurance at Community, admitted to participating in the fraud by forging doctors' signatures on treatment plans and falsifying medical records at Campanilla's direction. Sabalburo cooperated in the investigation and was sentenced in January to three years probation and ordered to pay $156,217 in restitution.

United States Attorney Debra Wong Yang, who serves on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee Working Group on Health Care Fraud, stated: "Home health fraud is a focal point of our ongoing effort to address the serious problem of health care fraud in Southern California. The method by which Medicare compensates home health agencies was revised in 2001 in an effort to curb prior abuses. Unfortunately, a number of agency operators quickly devised methods of exploiting the new system, which law enforcement is actively addressing. The type of fraud exhibited in this case is typical of the pernicious conduct of these fraudulent operators who corrupt the system by paying patients and doctors and drain the Medicare program of its limited funds."

The federal criminal investigation began after a whistleblower suit was filed by a Community employee, Jody Shutt, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The United States has intervened in the False Claims Act case, which is pending before the United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow.

The investigation was conducted by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Health Care Fraud Unit in Los Angeles.

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Release No. 06-060

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