Thank you, Secretary Sebelius. Today, we are announcing charges against 89 defendants in eight Strike Force cities across the country.
From Brooklyn, to Miami, to Detroit, to Los Angeles, these defendants are charged with having submitted over $223 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.
As the Attorney General said, this is our sixth national healthcare fraud takedown since 2010. As a result of these takedowns, we have charged nearly 600 defendants with fraudulently billing approximately $2 billion to the Medicare program.
Today’s defendants include, as charged, both the owners and operators of companies who participated in these fraudulent schemes, as well as the physicians and numerous other medical professionals who helped them steal precious Medicare dollars.
In many of these alleged schemes, the fraudulent billings could not have occurred without a doctor signing off on the bogus services or a nurse or therapist filling out false paperwork. In fact, nearly one-fourth of the defendants charged as part of today’s takedown are doctors, nurses, physical therapists or other medical professionals.
And, disturbingly, today’s actions also include charges against three defendants in Detroit, none of whom were licensed physicians, who allegedly held themselves out, falsely, as doctors; conducted examinations; wrote prescriptions for drugs, including narcotic pain medications; and signed off on documents that were used in a multi-million dollar psychotherapy fraud scheme.
Several of the defendants charged today also are alleged to have targeted the less fortunate in executing their fraud schemes. Our Baton Rouge Strike Force, for example, working with our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans, charged five individuals in connection with a $50 million home health scheme, in which the owners of home health companies allegedly paid patient recruiters to obtain Medicare information, often from low income beneficiaries, and used that information to bill for fraudulent home health services.
In all of the charged fraud schemes, profit was the driving force. In one case charged today, the defendant allegedly used his spoils to buy a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, and other luxury vehicles, in addition to a number of properties in the Miami area.
We have made it part of our core mission at the Department of Justice to hold accountable those who steal from the Medicare program to line their own pockets. There are Medicare fraudsters in prisons across the country – some who will be there for decades – who can attest to our determination, and our effectiveness.
The Criminal Division intends to continue – together with our partners in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services, and our many state and local law enforcement colleagues – to fight Medicare fraud across the country, in the smart and efficient way we have been doing.
Thank you. I would now like to turn it over to Assistant Director Ron Hosko of the FBI.