Chicago Marketer Convicted of Illegally Pocketing Bribes in Exchange for Referring Elderly Patients to Skokie-Based Home Health Company
CHICAGO — A federal judge today convicted a Chicago marketer of taking illegal payments in exchange for referring elderly patients to a Skokie-based home healthcare company.
JENETTE GEORGE was convicted on two counts of violating the federal Medicare and Medicaid Anti-Kickback Statute, and one count of conspiracy to violate the statute. U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah issued the verdict in federal court in Chicago.
George, 62, of Chicago, faces up to 15 years in prison when she is sentenced by Judge Darrah on August 10, 2016, at 1:30 p.m.
George is the eleventh defendant to be convicted as part of the federal investigation into the bribes-for-referrals and fraud schemes at Rosner Home Healthcare Inc. The prior convictions include three of the company’s owners, as well as two Illinois physicians. Between January 2008 and July 2012, Rosner officials paid kickbacks and bribes to doctors, marketers, medical office employees and nurses to refer patients to Rosner. The referrals enabled Rosner to bill Medicare for home healthcare treatment that it subsequently provided.
“Physicians did not refer patients to Rosner; Defendant did,” Judge Darrah wrote in an opinion supporting the George verdict.
Rosner, which was based in Skokie and later in Morton Grove, has since closed.
George operated Ttenej Senior Referral Agency, which provided senior citizens with referrals to home healthcare firms in the Chicago area. Evidence at her three-day bench trial in October 2015 revealed that George received approximately $500 from Rosner for each patient she referred to the company. In one undercover surveillance video presented at trial, George is seen counting out the cash that she received from EDGARDO HERNAL, a former Rosner employee who by then was cooperating with federal authorities. Evidence at trial further showed that nurses at Rosner regularly put false information into patient charts to make Rosner’s services appear to be medically necessary, and to make patients appear to be sicker than they actually were.
Hernal pleaded guilty in 2013 to a conspiracy charge and is awaiting sentencing. In addition to George and Hernal, the other defendants convicted in the investigation are:
ANA NERISSA TOLENTINO, of Morton Grove, a nurse and former part owner of Rosner.
ARMANDO TOLENTINO, of Morton Grove, a nurse and former part owner of Rosner.
FREDERICK MAGSINO, of Morton Grove, a former part owner of Rosner.
EMMANUEL NWAOKOCHA, of Skokie, an Illinois physician.
MASOOD SYED, of Mount Prospect, an Illinois physician.
JENNIFER HOLMAN, of Chicago, an office manager in a medical office.
TITIS JACKSON, also known as Titus Jackson, of Chicago, a marketer who referred Medicare patients to Rosner.
LIONEL PAUL GASSMANN, of Skokie, a Rosner nurse who treated patients in their homes.
GLORIA ZISMAN, of Des Plaines, a Rosner nurse who treated patients in their homes.
In addition, ARTHUR DAVIDA, a Bloomingdale physician who falsely certified many of Rosner’s patients for home-health services, including some referred by George, was convicted of health care fraud in a related case. Davida was sentenced earlier this year to two years in prison.
The conviction of George was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The investigation was carried out by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative between the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent fraud and to enforce anti-fraud laws around the country. Dozens of defendants have been charged in numerous fraud cases since the strike force began operating in Chicago in 2011.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Chahn Lee and Elizabeth Pozolo.