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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index
    Release No. 10-108

    July 21, 2010

    FINAL SIX DEFENDANTS FOUND GUILTY IN IMPOSTER NURSE SCHEME THAT DEFRAUDED MEDI-CAL OUT OF $4.6 MILLION

    LOS ANGELES – A federal jury this afternoon convicted the last six defendants indicted in relation to a ring that defrauded Medi-Cal out of nearly $4.6 million by using unlicensed individuals to provide in-home care to scores of disabled patients, many of them children with cerebral palsy or developmental disabilities.

    The six defendants found guilty today are: Berly Schwartz, 53, of La Mirada; Dante David, 51 of Costa Mesa; Socorro Narciso, 39, of Sacramento; Orlee Lumiguid, 37, of Sacramento; Ruth Magracia, 53, of LaPuente; and Carlisele Le, 39, of Lakewood. Each of the six defendants was convicted of health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, charges that cumulatively carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. David and Narciso were also convicted of aggravated identity theft, which carries a two-year mandatory minimum sentence. The six defendants will be sentenced by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess, who has not yet scheduled a sentencing hearing.

    “Today’s convictions should send a strong message to anyone who intends to defraud the federally funded Medi-Cal Program,” said Glenn R. Ferry, Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General will work closely with our law enforcement partners and continue the fight to protect the rights of the Medi-Cal patients as well as to prosecute individuals who intent to defraud the Medi-Cal program.”

    The six defendants convicted today were among 42 defendants charged last year as part of Operation License Integrity, a three-year investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The defendants all posed as licensed nurses as part of a scheme operated by their employer, Priscilla Villabroza, a registered nurse who ran a Santa Fe Springs-based company called Medcare Plus Home Health Providers. Villabroza pleaded guilty in federal court last year to five counts of health care fraud. Thirty-five other defendants including Evelyn Tisoy, who served as the accountant for Medcare Plus; Rosemarie Labasan, the company’s medical records manager; and 34 imposter nurses previously pleaded guilty to either health care fraud or conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

    “The convictions in this case should serve as a warning to others who might plan on defrauding government agencies that provide medical insurance, or depriving victims of legitimate medical services,” said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. “The FBI will continue to work with its partners at the California Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the United States Attorney’s Office, to combat this insidious crime problem.”

    Tony Sidley, the Assistant Chief of Investigations in the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, commented: “This case is an outstanding example of teamwork among the California Department of Justice, the U.S. Deptartment of Health and Human Services, the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office in our war on healthcare fraud. This case would not have been possible if not for the outstanding team work and expertise of the agents and attorneys assigned to this case. The California Attorney General’s Office was proud to be part of this outstanding campaign against healthcare fraud in the state.”

    A key assistant to Villabroza – Susan Bendigo, an RN who ran a Medcare Plus subsidiary – was indicted last year and remains a fugitive who fled the United States during the investigation into her activities.

    Consumers in the state of California can check the licensing status of RNs and LVNs at http://www2.dca.ca.gov.

    Anyone who suspects Medi-Cal fraud related to the use of unlicensed nurses or any other type of Medi-Cal or Medicare fraud may report their concerns to a hotline operated by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-477 8477) or to the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse hotline at 800-722-0432 or webpage at http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/individuals/Pages/StopMedi-CalFraud.aspx.

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    Release No. 10-108

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