Brooklyn-area Patient Pleads Guilty in Medicare Fraud Kick-back Scheme
WASHINGTON - Brooklyn-area resident Yefim Drakhler pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn for his participation in a Medicare fraud scheme operated out of the Solstice Wellness Center, a Brooklyn-area clinic purportedly providing physical therapy and various diagnostic services.
Drakhler, 74, pleaded guilty to conspiring to solicit and receive cash kickbacks in return for purportedly receiving treatment at Solstice. According to the underlying complaint, Drakhler was a Medicare patient at Solstice and was paid cash kickbacks in exchange for purportedly receiving medical services at Solstice which were subsequently billed to Medicare.
The complaint alleges that a former medical provider at Solstice turned over a ledger book to law enforcement which contained the names of Medicare beneficiaries, including Drakhler, and an indication of the number of visits to the clinic made by those beneficiaries.
At the plea hearing, Drakhler admitted that from approximately January 2009 to April 2010, he made visits to Solstice for medical services and that he was paid cash for receiving these services at the clinic. In addition, Drakhler admitted that he received these cash payments in a small room at Solstice from a man who Drakhler identified as one of the owners of Solstice.
According to the complaint, Drakhler was an “over-utilized beneficiary” or a Medicare beneficiary who appears to be shared among various providers and receives an excessive volume of services. According to the complaint, approximately $214,516 worth of services from 124 medical providers was billed to Medicare under Drakhler’s Medicare number during a six-year period.
The charge of conspiracy to solicit and receive health care kickbacks carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Today’s charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch; and Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Hank Bond Walther and Trial Attorneys Katherine Houston and Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the HHS Office of the Inspector General, the Office of the New York Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the New York Office of the Medicaid Inspector General. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in seven districts have obtained indictments of more than 825 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2 billion . In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.