Fort Worth Chiropractor Faces Up To Five Years In Federal Prison In Heath Care Fraud Case
FORT WORTH, Texas — The owner/operator of a chiropractic clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, pleaded guilty this afternoon to a federal felony offense stemming from her submission of approximately $718,000 in false reimbursement claims to Medicare and Medicaid, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Melva Mitchell, 35, of Fort Worth, a licensed chiropractor, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor to one count of making false statements relating to health care matters. Mitchell operated Best Choice Chiropractic and Wellness Center on Oakland Boulevard in Fort Worth. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. She will remain on bond pending sentencing, which is set for January 26, 2015, before Judge O’Connor.
According to documents filed in the case, Mitchell submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicare and Medicaid for chiropractic services that were not performed. She obtained the Medicare and Medicaid provider information for other individuals who were licensed Occupational Therapists, and used those persons’ provider information to obtain payments from Medicare and Medicaid for occupational therapy services that were not provided or were not provided by requisitely licensed individuals. Mitchell paid one of the individuals whose provider information she used a portion of the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements she received.
As one example of her false statements, Mitchell submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid indicating that she performed 25 separate chiropractic manipulations in her office from March 8, 2011 to March 10, 2011. These claims were false and fraudulent because she was on vacation in Puerto Rico at the time. For these 25 chiropractic manipulations, Mitchell submitted claims to Medicare totaling $1,750 and was paid $827.80. During this same time, Mitchell submitted claims to Medicaid totaling $4,515 and was paid $387.34.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, FBI, and Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit are investigating the case. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Brasher is in charge of the prosecution.