News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Brooklyn Park man sentenced for defrauding Medicaid

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2012


MINNEAPOLIS – Earlier today in federal court, the owner of a Minnesota home health
care company was sentenced for fraudulently obtaining more than $400,000 from Medicaid.
United States District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery sentenced Joseph Vah Lavien, age 58,
of Brooklyn Park, to five years of probation, including six months of home confinement, on one
count of health care fraud. In addition, Lavien was ordered to serve 150 hours of community
service and pay more than $496,000 in restitution. Lavien was charged on June 15, 2011, and
pleaded guilty on July 26, 2011. In his plea agreement, Lavien admitted that from 2008 through
June of 2009, he defrauded Medicaid, a federal health care benefit program, by submitting false
reimbursement claims for personal care services.

Since 2003, Lavien has owned and operated the Minneapolis-based home health care
company Palm Healthcare Services, Inc. The business is required to submit its Medicaid claims
for reimbursement of in-home personal care to the Minnesota Department of Human Services
(“DHS”), which administers the Medicaid program in Minnesota. The Medicaid program
provides medical care and services to low-income people who meet certain income and
eligibility requirements.

The reimbursements in the case of Palm Healthcare Services resulted from submission
of false records, including falsely reporting that services had been provided by specific personal
care attendants when that was not the case. Personal care attendants visit Medicaid patients in
their homes and assist with daily tasks. The total estimated loss to Medicaid due to these actions was $412,227.17. Lavien also admitted defrauding the MinnesotaCare insurance program,
through which the state of Minnesota pays the insurance premiums of low-income residents.
The total estimated loss to MinnesotaCare as a result of this fraud was $83,939.

This case was the result of an investigation by the Minnesota Attorney General’s
Office—Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services—Office of Inspector General (“HHS-OIG”). It was
prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Lewis.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office participates in a task force with the Medicaid Fraud Control
Unit at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office that focuses on home health care fraud trends.
The task force includes the HHS—OIG, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, and other
federal, state, and local law enforcement partners.

As a result of federal convictions for health care fraud, defendants are excluded from
participating in federal health benefit programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Exclusion
determinations are made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nationwide,
more than 3,000 individuals were excluded from program participation in Fiscal Year 2010
based upon criminal convictions or patient abuse or neglect, license revocations, or other
factors.

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