Columbus Home Health Care Provider Sentenced for Fraud
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The co-owner of Alpha Star Health Care Inc. was sentenced today in federal court to 18 months in prison for running home health care fraud and tax fraud schemes.
Ali Jama, 50, of Columbus, pleaded guilty in September 2018 to one count of making false health care statements and one count of making false statements to the IRS.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, United States Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation and Todd Wickerham, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.
According to court documents, Alpha, which was located on Westerville Road in Columbus, was a Medicare and Ohio Medicaid health care provider. In 2015 and 2016, Jama improperly billed Medicare and Medicaid by allowing unqualified health care aides to provide care.
Jama billed for services by disqualified individuals, whose criminal backgrounds prohibited them from providing direct care; and billed for services by untrained home health aides.
Further, Jama provided false documents to his tax preparer, claiming $0 in taxable income for 2013 and 2014. In fact, his taxable income for those years was approximately $167,000 and $301,000 respectively. As a result, the IRS sustained a loss of approximately $126,000 in tax liability.
Jama also provided false records to his tax preparer in terms of business expenses. Jama inflated business expenses, thereby reducing the company’s tax liability from nearly $680,000 to $81,000, resulting in addition loss of nearly $185,000 to the IRS.
As part of his sentence, Jama is ordered to forfeit $300,000. He was also ordered to pay $392,000 in restitution to Medicaid and approximately $311,000 in restitution to the IRS.
“The public rightfully expects and trusts that those who provide health care services are competent and qualified”, said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “The utilization of unqualified personnel coupled with the billing of federally funded health care programs for their services puts a patient’s health and safety at risk, and wastes taxpayer dollars. The OIG along with our federal and state partners will continue to identify and hold accountable those who choose to engage in this type of criminal activity.”
“Health care fraud affects every American and this case illustrates that the IRS and our law enforcement partners are steadfast in our commitment to detecting and dismantling health care fraud schemes and holding perpetrators of these crimes accountable,” said Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Waste, fraud and abuse take critical resources out of our health care system, contribute to the rising cost of health care and degrade the integrity of our health care system and legitimate patient care.”
“This is a deliberate, coldhearted violation of the public trust,” Ohio Attorney General Yost said. “This joint investigation and prosecution was equally deliberate, and the sentence is just.”
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation of this case by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Health Care Fraud Section, HHS Office of Inspector General, IRS Criminal Investigation and FBI, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Douglas W. Squires, Kenneth F. Affeldt and Maritsa A. Flaherty, who are representing the United States in this case.
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