Houston Woman Sentenced for Conspiring to Commit $50 Million Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering
HOUSTON – A 36-year-old Houston woman has been ordered to pay more than $15 million in restitution following her conviction of conspiring to commit $50 million health care fraud as well laundering money, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. A jury convicted Daniela Gozes-Wagner in September 2017.
Today. U.S. District Judge David Hittner ordered Gozes-Wagner to serve a total of 240 months imprisonment to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. She was further ordered to pay restitution of $15,283,985. At the hearing, the court noted Gozes-Wagner had “wreaked havoc” on the health care system of the United States.
Beginning in 2009, Gozes-Wagner conspired with others to falsely bill Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars of medical tests which were either not performed or were medically unnecessary.
Most of these tests supposedly occurred at 28 testing facilities over many years. However, when law enforcement conducted law enforcement operations there, they discovered that many of the facilities were actually empty offices.
To prevent Medicare from learning about the scheme, Gozes-Wagner hired “seat warmers” – young women paid to sit and answer phones in the nearly empty offices that comprised many of the “testing facilities.” They believed they could spend most of their time watching streaming movies. However, when Medicare investigators tried to inspect the empty offices, these “seat warmers” were instructed to notify Gozes-Wagner and prevent the investigators from inspecting the offices.
The conspirators also hid the true owners of the testing facilities by placing them in the names of other people.
The FBI, Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Department of Health and Human Services conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Office of Personnel Management and Railroad Retirement Board. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Chu, Jim McAlister and Jason Smith prosecuted the case.