United States Settles False Claims Act Allegations Involving Medical Product Manufacturer For $14.5 Million
WASHINGTON – A federal judge has entered a verdict in favor of the United States and against Dynamic Visions, Inc., and awarded the government $1.98 million in a False Claims Act case, in which the United States demonstrated that employees of the home health care company repeatedly and routinely falsified records to obtain funds from Medicaid.
The award was announced today by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Andrew Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Nicholas DiGiulio, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), for the region that includes Washington, D.C.
The decision was issued on Oct. 20, 2017, by the Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Dynamic Visions, Inc., a corporation that was based in Bowie, Md., was a home health care company that did business in the District of Columbia and that also had a District of Columbia address. Under the Medicaid program, Dynamic Visions was initially approved to furnish elderly and disabled patients with assistance in the day-to-day activities of living, such as bathing, dressing, and taking needed medications. D.C. Medicaid, which is subsidized by the federal Medicaid program, paid for many of Dynamic Visions’ services for low-income patients.
In the fall of 2008, the District of Columbia’s Department of Health Care Finance discovered irregularities in Dynamic Visions’ records during a routine audit, and a team consisting of Special Agents from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General began an investigation. During the investigation, in December 2008, search warrants were executed on Dynamic Visions’ Washington, D.C. offices and the residence of Isaiah M. Bongam, the company’s owner.
The documents collected confirmed that patient files did not contain physician authorizations, called “plans of care,” as required under applicable regulations; contained plans of care that were not signed by physicians or other qualified health care workers; or contained forged signatures in order to cover up the lack of a physician’s authorization. At the conclusion of the investigation, in April 2011, the United States filed a False Claims action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging a massive and routine pattern of fraud carried out between January 2006 and June 2009 by the employees of Dynamic Visions.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly earlier held that Bongam engaged in uncooperative and obstructive behavior when he failed to provide many of Dynamic Visions’ financial records to the United States, withdrew large sums of money out of Dynamic Visions’ business accounts after the government searched Dynamic Visions’ offices, and moved the funds to his own personal accounts, or to the accounts of his two other businesses that had no substantive connection to Dynamic Visions. Accordingly, the Court held that Dynamic Visions was merely an “alter ego” for its owner, and found Bongam to be liable for the conduct of Dynamic Visions.
In its decision to treble the initial $489,744 damages awarded to the United States under the False Claims Act, and to further impose an additional $11,000 civil penalty for each and every one of the 47 invoices at issue submitted by Dynamic Visions, Judge Kollar-Kotelly found that Dynamic Visions’ uncooperative and obstructive conduct during the investigation and the proceeding before the Court justified the trebling of damages and the imposition of the maximum civil penalty possible under the statute.
In announcing the award, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge Vale, and Special Agent in Charge DiGiulio commended the work of those who worked on the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. They expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General.
Finally, they acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case and brought it to trial from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Darrell C. Valdez and Paralegal Specialist Idongesit “Benji” Umo.
The lawsuit is captioned United States v. Dynamic Visions, Inc., Civil Action 11-cv-695 (D.D.C.).