Former Railroad Employee Sentenced to Two and a Half Years in Federal Prison for Fraudulently Obtaining Disability Benefits
CHICAGO — A federal judge today sentenced the head of a Schaumburg home health company to six years in prison for scheming to bill Medicare for millions of dollars in unnecessary services.
As the manager of Suburban Home Physicians, which did business as Doctor at Home, DIANA JOCELYN GUMILA directed employees to perform in-home visits with patients who were physically capable of leaving their residences and not in need of in-home treatment. Gumila also inflated the costs incurred by Medicare by directing employees to bill the treatment at the most complicated levels, even though the visits were typically routine and did not qualify for the elevated billing.
A jury in April convicted Gumila, 47, of Streamwood, on 21 counts of health care fraud and three counts of making false statements in a health care matter. In addition to the 72-month sentence, U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras ordered the defendant to pay $15.6 million in restitution.
“Home-health fraud has become a significant problem nationally and particularly in the Chicago area,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Chahn Lee argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Such fraud cannot happen without people like defendant, who abuse Medicare’s rules and abuse the trust placed in them by Medicare and their patients.”
Gumila is one of several defendants convicted in the federal investigation of Doctor at Home. The prior convictions include ALAN NEWMAN, a physician from Chicago, and JAMES ADEMIJU, a nurse from Matteson who operated two nursing agencies. In a plea agreement, Newman admitted falsely certifying patients for nursing services even when he knew the patients did not need such care. Newman admitted causing approximately $2.6 million in losses to Medicare, according to his plea agreement. Ademiju pleaded guilty to billing for unnecessary services that were improperly authorized by physicians from Doctor at Home, and he acknowledged making illegal payments for patient referrals.
Evidence presented at Gumila’s two-week trial included a surreptitious audio recording in which Gumila can be heard telling a new doctor to “paint the picture” of patients so as to make them appear confined to their homes. Emails from Gumila were also shown to the jury, including one in which she referred to a physician who did not read orders before signing them as “the type of doctor we need [b]ecause he will just do what we tell him to do.”
Gumila’s conviction 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; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Kristie Osswald, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Railroad Retirement Board Office of the Inspector General.
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 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 Mr. Lee and Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Didwania.