Husband and Wife Owners of Chicago Physical Therapy Company Indicted in Scheme to Bilk Medicare and Employ Housekeeper Against Her Will
CHICAGO — A Chicago couple used their health care business to bilk Medicare out of millions of dollars while also conspiring to force a housekeeper to work against her will, according to an indictment returned in federal court in Chicago.
RICHARD TINIMBANG and his wife, MARIBEL TINIMBANG, participated in a $45 million fraud scheme involving three Lincolnwood-based home health care companies owned by Richard Tinimbang’s mother, according to the indictment. The companies paid bribes and kickbacks to obtain Medicare beneficiaries, ignored doctors who refused to certify beneficiaries as being in need of home health care, and falsified medical records to make patients appear sicker than they actually were, the indictment states. The couple and Richard Tinimbang’s mother, JOSEPHINE TINIMBANG, allegedly used proceeds from the fraud to make numerous personal purchases, including shares of stock, vehicles, real estate, and jewelry.
Richard Tinimbang, 38, of Chicago, is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud Medicare, one count of conspiracy to pay or receive health care kickbacks, two counts of paying kickbacks to induce referrals of Medicare beneficiaries, one count of money laundering conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to obtain forced labor, and one count of presenting false statements in an immigration document.
Maribel Tinimbang, 40, of Chicago, is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud Medicare, one count of money laundering conspiracy, and one count of conspiracy to obtain forced labor.
An arraignment date has not yet been set.
The charges against Richard and Maribel Tinimbang are contained in a third superseding indictment returned last week in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The case is part of a larger health care fraud investigation that previously resulted in charges against 13 others. Three defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, while the other ten, including Josephine Tinimbang, are awaiting trial. The investigation found that several individuals who worked at three related home health care companies – Donnarich Home Health Care Inc., Josdan Home Health Care Inc., and Pathways Home Health Services LLC – conspired to commit health care fraud and laundered money to conceal the scheme. The fraud started in 2008 and continued into 2014, resulting in a loss to Medicare of $45 million, according to the indictment.
Richard and Maribel Tinimbang’s business, Patients First Physical Therapy Inc., purported to provide in-home therapy services to patients of the three companies. The indictment states the couple concealed the money they had pocketed by falsely making it appear to be business expenses, then used it to purchase personal items, including a 5,000-square-foot residence in Lincolnwood.
In addition to the health care fraud charges, Richard Tinimbang is accused of submitting fraudulent forms to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow a Filipino woman to legally work in the United States. Richard Tinimbang stated in the form that the woman would be hired as a business analyst at Josdan, thus qualifying her for an H-1B visa. When the woman arrived in the United States, Richard Tinimbang put her to work full time as a nanny and housekeeper for him, his wife and others, the indictment states.
The couple allegedly attempted to induce the woman to sign a servitude contract that provided for payment of $66 per day – regardless of the number of hours worked – for a term of seven years. The contract further provided that if the woman quit before the seventh year, she would be required to pay $25,000 in damages, the indictment states. To force the woman to surrender her passport and sign the contract, the couple threatened to send her back to the Philippines without being paid for the work she had already performed, according to the indictment.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in- Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General; James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; James M. Gibbons, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
The investigation was carried out by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which consists of agents from the FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Fraud Section. The strike force is part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative between the Justice Department and HHS to prevent fraud and enforce anti-fraud laws around the country.
The case was also investigated by the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force, a multi-disciplinary unit that brings law enforcement agencies together to work on human trafficking cases.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Trial Attorney Brooke Harper of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Fraud Section.
To report healthcare fraud or to learn more about it, logon to: StopMedicareFraud.gov.