Georgia nurse practitioner convicted of health care fraud in complex telemedicine fraud scheme
Fraudulent orders included knee brace for leg amputee
AUGUSTA, GA: A Rockdale County, Ga., nurse practitioner faces substantial time in federal prison after a jury found her guilty of health care fraud, aggravated identity theft, and other counts in a multimillion-dollar telemedicine fraud scheme.
Sherley L. Beaufils, 43, of Conyers, Ga., was convicted after a two-day trial on charges of an illegal kickback conspiracy, and five counts each of Health Care Fraud, False Statements Related to Health Care, and Aggravated Identity Theft, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Conviction on the charges subjects Beaufils to a possible statutory sentence of up to 10 years in prison on each count of Health Care Fraud, two years on each count of Aggravated Identity Theft, and five years in prison on all other counts, along with substantial fines and penalties, followed by a period of supervised release upon completion of any prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Indicted in the Southern District as part of the nationwide Operation Brace Yourself initiative targeting healthcare fraud, Sherley Beaufils profited by signing unnecessary orders for orthotic braces for patients she never examined or spoke to,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Her greed was her undoing – and she is now being held accountable for targeting the elderly with her serial fraud.”
As described in court documents and testimony, Beaufils, as a nurse practitioner, facilitated orders for more than 3,000 orthotic braces that generated more than $3 million in fraudulent or excessive charges to Medicare. Co-conspirators captured the identities of senior citizens, identified through a telemarketing scheme, and bundled that information as “leads.”
Beaufils then signed her name to fake medical records, in which she falsely claimed she provided examinations of those patients, and then created orders for orthotic braces for patients she never met or spoke with – including a knee brace for an amputee, and a back brace for a recently deceased patient – and other durable medical equipment, in exchange for money. Beaufils’s fraudulent orders were then sold to companies that would generate reimbursement from Medicare.
Beaufils was found not guilty at trial of one additional charge of conspiracy.
“Today, this defendant found out what health care providers who defraud Medicare are finding out all over America: fraudsters will be held accountable for their greed-fueled fraud schemes,” said Special Agent in Charge Tamala E. Miles of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “Our investigators will continue to work closely with our state and federal law enforcement partners to protect federal health care programs from such scams.”
“The level of greed shown by Beaufils in this case is shocking, as she lined her pockets at the expense of American taxpayers and government funded healthcare programs,” said Philip Wislar, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Health care costs are driven up when doctors and staff bill for unnecessary and incomplete services, and the FBI and our partners will use every resource necessary to put a stop to it.”
The case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan A. Porter and Patricia G. Rhodes.