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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Medical business owner sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison for medicare fraud

Pate was convicted in December 2018 of 33 counts of fraud, identity theft

AUGUSTA, GA:  The owner of a Thomson, Ga., medical equipment company was sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison Tuesday, July 30, for a wide-ranging Medicare fraud scheme.

Detra Wiley Pate, owner and CEO of Southern Respiratory LLC, of Thomson, Ga., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randall Hall to 121 months in federal prison for multiple counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud and aggravated identity theft, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. She also was ordered to pay $950,000 in restitution, and must serve three years of supervised release after completion of her sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Detra Wiley Pate had every opportunity to operate a successful, legitimate business serving the needs of the elderly and vulnerable in her community,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “Instead, she got greedy and charged Medicare for expensive equipment patients neither needed nor received, using prescriptions doctors had not written. As an ironic result, she’ll grow old in prison while reflecting on her fraud.”

According to the information presented in court documents and testimony, from 2014-2016 Pate submitted thousands of false claims, fabricated patient files, and falsified prescriptions from doctors for items such as heavy-duty wheelchairs while providing much cheaper standard wheelchairs to patients – and pocketing the substantial difference in cost. Pate used the money she stole from Medicare through this fraud to pay for such things as jewelry, including a 1.5 carat diamond and a Rolex watch.

“The FBI and our federal law enforcement partners are determined to prosecute anyone who chooses to profit personally at the expense of those who count on federal healthcare programs for their deserved benefit and the taxpayers of this country,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This sentencing is an example of that determination and our commitment to protect our citizens and uphold the Constitution.”

“Fraud schemes such as these divert taxpayer funds from vital federal healthcare programs to fraudsters – such as Detra Wiley Pate – who seek personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Our agents, working closely with our law enforcement partners, will continue to clamp down on such scams.”

The case was investigated by the FBI and by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia Rhodes and Thomas Clarkson led the prosecution for the United States with assistance from Litigation Technologist Dean Athanasopoulos.

Topic(s): 
Health Care Fraud
Identity Theft
Contact: 
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer (Contractor): 912-652-4422
Press Release Number: 
76-19
Updated July 31, 2019