Jan. 22, 2010
FORMER HOUSTON BUSINESS OWNERS SENTENCED TO LENGTHY PRISON TERMS FOR FRAUDULENTLY BILLING MEDICARE & MEDICAID FOR $36 MILLION
(HOUSTON) – The owners of several Houston area durable medical equipment (DME) companies convicted by a jury in April 2009 of conspiracy to defraud Medicare and Medicaid, health care fraud, wire fraud and money laundering have been sentenced to long prison terms, United States Attorney Tim Johnson and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today.
Rhonda Fleming, 44, and Rose Ebhamen, 45, were sentenced this morning by United States District Judge Gray Miller. Judge Miller sentenced Fleming to 30 years in federal prison without parole and ordered her to pay $6.29 million in restitution to Medicare and Medicaid. Ebhamen was sentenced to 135 months and ordered to pay $1.9 million in restitution to Medicare and Medicaid. Both defendants left the courtroom in the custody of Deputy U.S. Marshals to begin serving their sentences.
Fleming was the owner of three DME companies- Hi-Tech Medical Supply & Delivery (Hi-Tech), E&R Medical Supply (E&R) and Medical Equipment and Supply Center (MESC), as well as a Medicare billing company, Advanced Medical Billing Specialists Inc. (AMBS). Ebhamen was the owner of First Advantage Nursing, another DME company.
The third defendant tried and convicted by the jury’s verdict, King Arthur, was the co-owner of Hi-Tech. The evidence presented at trial provided Fleming purchased Medicare beneficiary information, including their names and Medicare numbers from co-defendant James Chaney and others for use in the scheme. Co-defendant Bill Perkins and other employees of Fleming created fictitious delivery tickets to give the appearance that the DME had been delivered by Hi-Tech, First Advantage and E&R to the Medicare beneficiaries. Ebhamen and Arthur allowed Fleming to use their Medicare supplier numbers to execute the scheme. Virtually none of the $36 million of durable medical equipment billed to Medicare was ever purchased or delivered to the Medicare beneficiaries. Khira Guillory testified she billed Medicare $7.5 million for equipment that was never delivered. Fleming and her five co-defendants’ fraud scheme caused Medicare/Medicaid to pay out approximately $6.3 million in fraudulent claims.
Co-defendants, Khira Guillory, 29, Billy Perkins, 50, and James Chaney, 47, pleaded guilty prior to trial and testified during the Fleming/Ebhamen trial. Each was sentenced previously for their roles in this far-reaching scheme to defraud Medicare and Medicaid. Guillory was sentenced to 12 months and a day. Perkins was sentenced to 70 months imprisonment and Chaney was sentenced to 60 months. All were also ordered to pay varying amounts in restitution ranging in the millions in restitution to the federal health care programs. Arthur was sentenced to 95 months in prison and ordered to pay $4 million in restitution to Medicare and Medicaid. Chaney, Perkins and Arthur are already serving their sentences while Guillory has been ordered to surrender to begin serving her sentence in early February.
During the fall of 2005, the United States seized and forfeited approximately $1.8 million of the illegal Medicare/Medicaid proceeds obtained during the alleged conspiracy to defraud Medicare. The criminal convictions are the result of a joint investigation conducted by agents of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, and the Medicare Fraud Control Unit of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Al Balboni and Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Bradley.
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