Five Detroit Residents Plead Guilty to Health Care Fraud Charges
WASHINGTON – Detroit residents Dierdre Teagen, Robert Wynn, Ernest Neal, James Harris and Steve Sherman pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Detroit this week for their roles in various Medicare fraud schemes, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Terrence Berg and Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
Dierdre Teagan, 51, today pleaded guilty to destroying the patient records of X-Press Center, a Detroit-area clinic that purported to specialize in providing injection and infusion services to Medicare beneficiaries. Teagan admitted that she destroyed the records upon learning that the government was investigating X-Press for Medicare fraud. Teagan also admitted that she worked as a medical assistant at X-Press while the clinic was purporting to provide injection and infusion services, and she assisted in creating new patient records for the clinic that would purportedly support the clinic’s prior Medicare claims. Teagan acknowledged that she falsified and destroyed the patient records with the intent to impede, obstruct and influence a Medicare investigation.
Robert Wynn, 61, and Ernest Neal, 54, pleaded guilty on Sept. 28, 2009, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. James Harris, 53, pleaded guilty on Sept. 29, 2009, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and Steve Sherman, 62, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
Wynn, Neal, Harris and Sherman admitted to defrauding the Medicare program by participating in schemes to bill the program for services that were never provided. Specifically, Wynn, Neal, Harris and Sherman acknowledged that they provided their Medicare numbers and identifications to clinic owners and patient recruiters in exchange for kickbacks, for the purpose of submitting false claims to Medicare. Each admitted that they signed false paperwork indicating that they had received services when none of them received any services. Each acknowledged that their signatures were used to create fictitious therapy files to justify billings to Medicare.
Wynn, Neal, Harris and Sherman admitted that in exchange for their signatures and Medicare cards, they were paid kickbacks in the form of cash or prescriptions for controlled substances. Collectively, Medicare was billed more than $200,000 between 2003 and 2007 for services purportedly provided to these four defendants, when in fact, no such services were provided.
At sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2010, Teagan faces a statutory maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Wynn, Neal, Sherman and Harris each face statutory maximum terms of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Wynn is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 10, 2010. Neal’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16, 2009, and Harris and Sherman are scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 13, 2010.
The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys John K. Neal, Benjamin D. Singer and Gejaa Gobena of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas W. Beimers of the Eastern District of Michigan. The FBI and the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) conducted the investigation.
The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by Deputy Chief Kirk Ogrosky of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg of the Eastern District of Michigan. Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in four districts have resulted in indictments of 300 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $680 million. In addition, HHS’s 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