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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Indiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 30, 2020

Hamilton Woman Charged

With Health Care Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

FORT WAYNE – Suzi Gawel, age 57, of Hamilton, Indiana, was charged by Information with health care fraud and aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Kirsch. 

According to the Information, Gawel worked as an office manager at a Fort Wayne company that sold durable medical equipment (DME) to clients across northern Indiana.  Some of the company’s clients were Medicaid beneficiaries. Through her work, Gawel had access to Medicaid patient information, including patients’ names, addresses, dates of birth, Medicaid ID numbers and treating physician information.  From about January 2015 and continuing to about October 2018, Gawel devised a scheme to defraud Medicaid.  During this time period, she submitted over 200 reimbursement claims to Indiana Medicaid for DME, including oximetry devices and pneumatic compressors, which were not provided to Medicaid recipients and/or for which they had no medical necessity and/or for which there was no physician order. In total, her scheme defrauded Indiana Medicaid of approximately $646,690.32.

The parties have entered into a plea agreement, which has been filed with the court, to resolve the criminal charges.  If this signed plea agreement is accepted by the court, Gawel will pay restitution in the amount of $646,690.32 and will serve a prison sentence, the length of which will be determined by the court at a sentencing hearing. 

U.S. Attorney Kirsch said, “Healthcare fraud will not be tolerated.  My Office is aggressively working together with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute fraud schemes like this one, where criminals steal from the public.  Theft from public benefit programs decrease tax dollars available to fund legitimate claims.”

“This individual’s scheme had one purpose - to line her own pockets by defrauding the system,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Middleton, FBI Indianapolis. “The investigation of health care fraud is a priority for the FBI and our law enforcement partners and we will continue to identify and pursue those who perpetrate this crime.” 

The United States Attorney’s Office emphasizes that an Information is merely an allegation and that all persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. If convicted, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

This case was investigated by the Indiana Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Financial Crimes Task Force and the Organized Crime and Corruption Unit of the Indiana State Police.  This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah E. Nokes. 

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Topic(s): 
Health Care Fraud
Updated March 30, 2020