Michigan Patient Recruiter Pleads Guilty in $1.2 Million Kickback Scheme
A Michigan woman pleaded guilty today for her role as a patient recruiter in a scheme involving approximately $1.2 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for home health care procured through the payment of kickbacks.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Timothy Slater of the FBI’s Detroit Division 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.
Ghalia Savaya, 50, of Sterling Heights, Michigan, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to receive kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program before U.S. District Judge David Lawson of the Eastern District of Michigan. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 30 before Judge Lawson.
Savaya was indicted in June 2018. As part of her guilty plea, Savaya admitted that, from approximately April 2015 to approximately Nov. 2017, she received illegal kickbacks in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries to Franklin Health Care LLC of Troy, Michigan, which billed Medicare for claims procured through these illegal kickbacks. Medicare paid over $1.25 million for claims related to beneficiaries referred by Savaya, which included claims for beneficiaries who were not eligible to receive home health care services.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which 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 Eastern District of Michigan. Trial Attorneys Howard Locker and Steven Scott of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 14 strike forces operating in 23 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.