Southern Texas Patient Recruiter Convicted in $3.6 Million Home Health Care Fraud Scheme
A federal jury found Mercy O. Ainabe, a patient recruiter for Texas Tender Care, guilty today for her role in a $3.6 million Medicare fraud scheme involving fraudulent claims for home health services.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Dallas Region, and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit (MFCU) made the announcement.
After a three-day trial, Mercy O. Ainabe, 52, of Houston, Texas, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, five counts of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to pay health care kickbacks. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 27 before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas, who presided over the trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, the defendant and her co-conspirators submitted claims to Medicare for home health services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided. Ainabe paid beneficiaries, doctors, physical therapy companies, and others for the paperwork, Medicare beneficiary information, and services needed to facilitate the fraud.
The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG, and MFCU, 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 Southern District of Texas. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Andrew Pennebaker and Elizabeth Young of the Fraud Section.
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. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.