Registered Nurse Pleads Guilty in Connection with Detroit Medicare Fraud Scheme
A registered nurse who fabricated nursing visit forms in connection with a $24 million home health care fraud conspiracy in Detroit pleaded guilty today for her role in the scheme, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade, Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley III of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Chicago Regional Office.
Beverly Cooper, 59, of Detroit, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts in the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
Cooper admitted that she and others conspired to defraud Medicare through home health care companies operating in the Detroit area, including Reliance Home Care LLC, First Choice Home Health Care Services Inc. and Accessible Home Care Inc. According to court documents, Cooper fabricated nursing visit notes and other documents to give Medicare the impression that she had provided home health care services, when, in fact, home health care was not needed and/or was not being provided. Cooper also admitted that while at these companies, she signed nursing visit notes for home visits made by other unlicensed individuals to give Medicare the false impression that she had provided home health care. Court documents reveal that Cooper understood that the documents she created would be used by these companies to submit claims to Medicare for home health services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided.
Court documents show that when home health companies were inspected by state regulatory agencies, Cooper and her co-conspirators participated in staged home health visits, posing as employees of these companies and treating fake patients, all to give inspectors the false impression that these companies’ operations were legitimate and that home health services were in fact being provided.
Court documents allege that between 2006 and May 2012, Cooper’s conduct caused Reliance, First Choice and Accessible to submit claims to Medicare for services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided, causing Medicare to pay these companies approximately $5,403,703.
At sentencing, scheduled for July 23, 2013, Cooper faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney William G. Kanellis and Assistant Chief Gejaa Gobena of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. It was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, 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 Eastern District of Michigan.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is 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.