Father And Son Guilty in $21 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – June 15, 2023
SAN DIEGO - El Cajon resident and businessowner Anthony Duane Bell, Sr., pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that he fraudulently received more than $21 million in Medicare payments. His son and namesake, Anthony Duane Bell, Jr., admitted making false statements to the FBI to conceal the fraudulent scheme.
As part of his guilty plea, Bell, Sr. agreed to pay $21,725,604.56 in restitution to Medicare and forfeit $806,375.12 and a multi-million-dollar luxury house in El Cajon.
According to court records, the Bells created companies known as Universal Medical Solutions 1 and Universal Medical Solutions 2, with locations in Santee and San Diego. The companies supplied durable medical equipment like knee, ankle, wrist, shoulder, and back braces. The Bells obtained customers for their companies by paying thousands of dollars in kickbacks to “marketing” companies. To obtain the prescriptions, the marketing companies paid doctors for the medically unnecessary prescriptions for braces. The Bells sought to conceal their fraudulent kickback scheme by entering into sham “marketing” agreements and other contracts. In truth, the Bells were paying a set fee per brace to purchase the patients. The Bells would then send the braces to the Medicare beneficiaries and bill Medicare for the medically unnecessary braces. The Bells paid significantly less for the braces than they billed Medicare.
When Bell Jr. was interviewed by the FBI, he falsely stated that he had never heard of PA Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, a provider of durable medical equipment and his former employer.
“Fraudulent conduct that exploits the Medicare system erodes public support for this important program and squanders taxpayer resources,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “I am grateful to our prosecution team and agency partners for their efforts to bring these crimes to justice.”
“Medicare is an essential government program that is supposed to assist some of our most vulnerable citizens with getting the healthcare they need. It should not be used as a ‘get rich’ scheme by scammers,” said FBI San Diego Acting Special Agent in Charge, Thomas Ryan. “People who exploit government programs to attempt to mask their malicious acts will continue to be investigated and held accountable by the FBI and our law enforcement partners.”
The Bells are scheduled to be sentenced on January 8, 2024, at 9 a.m., before U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Health and Human Services, and United States Marshal’s Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Valerie H. Chu and Christopher M. Alexander of the Southern District of California.
DEFENDANTS Criminal Case No. 20CR2887-WQH
Anthony Duane Bell Sr. Age: 54 El Cajon, California
Anthony Duane Bell Jr. Age: 33 Los Angeles, California
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Health Care Fraud, a felony, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1347
Maximum Penalty: Ten years in custody; $250,000 fine
False Statement, a felony, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001
Maximum Penalty: Five years in custody; $250,000 fine
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General
United States Marshal’s Service
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Valerie H. Chu (619-546-6750) and Christopher M. Alexander (619-546-6665)
Updated June 27, 2023
Press Release Number: CAS23-0627-Bell
Health Care Fraud