Texas man sentenced to prison for scheme to fraudulently bill government medical insurance programs
Prosecution is part of effort against fraudulent 'telehealth' scams
AUGUSTA, GA: A Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for organizing a scheme that paid workers to solicit elderly and low-income residents for information used to fraudulently bill government medical programs.
Patrick Siado, 39, of Houston, was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $50,075 in restitution by U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall after pleading guilty to one count of Conspiracy, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. After completion of his prison sentence, Siado must serve three years of supervised release.
“Of the nearly three dozen defendants prosecuted in the past year for health care fraud in the Southern District of Georgia, Patrick Siado represents a hands-on example of exploiting vulnerable and elderly people for illicit profit,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “We’re grateful for the work of law enforcement partners, especially the Augusta District Attorney’s Office and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, for their work in protecting the citizens and their public safety net.”
As described in court documents and testimony, Siado admitted that he and unindicted co-conspirators hired individuals to solicit information and take DNA swabs from low-income and elderly residents. The individuals were paid $150 for each “patient,” with the information used by other conspirators to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Siado would then receive an illegal kickback ranging from $100 to $575 per test accepted for billing, which typically generated a claim to Medicaid of more than $30,000 each.
“There are many losers, to include every single taxpayer in this country, when individuals like Siado scheme to bilk government subsidized programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “In this case the biggest losers were the vulnerable low-income and elderly who are entitled to those funds. Along with our federal, state and local partners we are making it a priority to uncover this sort of abuse.”
“Today’s sentencing is yet another instance in which an unscrupulous player thought he could fortify his bank account at the expense of taxpayers, but he was decidedly wrong,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Our office, along with our dedicated partners, will continue in the fight to safeguard all federally funded health care programs.”
“It is unacceptable that there are those in our society who will sink to a level so low and use Georgia citizens, specifically older, at-risk adults, as pawns for their financial gain,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. “I commend the Augusta District Attorney’s Office and Burke County Sheriff’s Office for their work in protecting our most vulnerable. Our Office, through the Medicaid Fraud Division, will continue to work collaboratively with U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine’s Office and all other law enforcement to safeguard our healthcare system and those that depend on it.”
The Southern District of Georgia has now charged 30 individuals and companies as part of the nationwide crackdown on fraudulent genetic testing, and prescribing of orthotic braces and pain creams, identifying more than $1.5 billion in losses to Medicare and Medicaid. Those who believe they might have been a victim of such a scheme should contact Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Thomas Clarkson at 912-652-4422.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, the Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Thomas Clarkson and Hank Syms, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Mooney.