Chicago Home Health Company Owner Convicted for Role in $3 Million Kickback Scheme
A federal jury found the owner of a now-defunct Chicago, Illinois home health company guilty today for her role in a scheme involving over $3 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for home health services that were procured through the payment of kickbacks.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr. of the Northern District of Illinois, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.
After a seven-day trial, Jacqueline Tuanqui, 56, of Bartlet, Illinois, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, seven counts of payment for specific kickbacks and one count of visa fraud. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 1, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood of the Northern District of Illinois, who presided over the trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, from 2008 to 2015, Tunaqui paid kickbacks in return for the referral of Medicare beneficiaries to Hexagram Home Health Care (Hexagram), a home health company that operated in the Chicago metropolitan area between 2008 and 2016. The evidence established that Tuanqui and her co-conspirators billed Medicare $12 million, at least $3 million of which was fraudulent. Trial evidence included the testimony of four individuals who were charged and pleaded guilty, including Hexagram’s former general manager, director of nursing and two patient recruiters. The government’s witnesses also included four other former employees who admitted to facilitating kickback payments and forging patient files to advance the conspiracies.
This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG with the assistance of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illionis. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Leslie Garthwaite and Daniel Griffin of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.