Miami-Area Resident Pleads Guilty toParticipating in $63 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
WASHINGTON – A Miami-area resident pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Miami for her role in a health care fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $63 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Sarah Da Silva Keller, 27, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke in Miami to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Keller admitted to participating in a fraud scheme that was orchestrated by the owner and operators of Health Care Solutions Network (HCSN), which operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), a form of intensive mental health treatment for severe mental illness.
According to an indictment unsealed on May 2, 2012, HCSN paid kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries to HCSN for PHP treatment that was unnecessary and, in many instances, not provided. According to court documents, Keller admitted that she falsified records at the direction of others so that HCSN could bill Medicare for patients who did not receive the services from HCSN. Keller knew that the falsification of these records was part of a plan for HCSN to commit health care fraud.
At sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 17, 2012, Keller faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.
Nine other charged defendants, including the owner and operators of HCSN, await trial before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial.
Today’s guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Xanthi C. Mangum, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Steven Kim, William Parente and Allan Medina of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and 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 Southern District of Florida.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,330 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. 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.