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Humble, Texas Woman Sentenced for East Texas Health Care Fraud
BEAUMONT, Texas – A 61-year-old Humble, Texas woman has been sentenced to federal prison for health care related fraud in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Lula Thurman pleaded guilty on Oct. 18, 2011, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield. Thurman was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $483,883.76.
According to information presented in court, from Aug. 2005 to March 2007, Thurman, the owner of LT's Faith-N-Action, a durable medical equipment (DME) supplier, devised and managed a scheme to commit $483,833.76 in health care fraud by falsifying Medicare applications and filing fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims for power wheelchairs allegedly supplied to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Thurman and her associates recruited unwitting Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries in Texas and Louisiana by promising them a free motorized wheelchair after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Thurman fraudulently billed Medicare using a special modifier code issued by Medicare for claims resulting from a catastrophe or disaster like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This code, called a "CR Modifier," was supposed to be used by a DME supplier when that supplier had provided a replacement piece of equipment, like a power wheelchair, that had been severely damaged or destroyed by either Hurricane Katrina or Rita. Instead, Thurman used the CR Modifier for numerous power wheelchair claims where the CR Modifier did not apply because the beneficiary either did not possess a power wheelchair prior to either Hurricane; or did not suffer significant damage to, or destruction of, his/her power wheelchair from either Hurricane; or never received a power wheelchair from the defendant after either Hurricane Katrina or Rita. Thurman was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 4, 2011.
This case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, and the Medicare Fraud Control Unit of the Texas Attorney General's Office and prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Foster.