Woman First in the Nation Charged with Misappropriating Monies Designed for COVID Medical Provider Relief
A Michigan woman was indicted on allegations that she intentionally misappropriated government funds that were designed to aid medical providers in the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19 and used them for her own personal expenses.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin of the Eastern District of Michigan, 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 Region and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office made the announcement.
Amina Abbas, of Taylor, was charged by indictment Wednesday in the Eastern District of Michigan with embezzlement of government property.
This indictment includes the first criminal charges for the intentional misuse of funds intended to provide relief to health care providers and maintain the access to medical care during the pandemic, money set aside to help Americans get needed medical care in a global health and economic crisis.
The indictment alleges that Abbas previously owned 1 on 1 Home Health (1 on 1), which she had closed in early 2020 after Medicare issued an overpayment demand for $1,619,967.08 because 1 on 1 had submitted claims for patients who did not qualify for home health services. According to the indictment, 1 on 1, which was never operational during the pandemic, received approximately $37,656.95 designated for the medical treatment and care of COVID-19 patients. Abbas then allegedly misappropriated the funds by issuing checks to her family members for personal use.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted March 29. It is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act is the Provider Relief Fund, moneys that were provided to medical provers that must be used for the medical providers’ coronavirus response.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by HHS-OIG and the FBI. Trial Attorney Emily Gurskis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.