Spring Hill Man Named in National Health-Care Fraud
It is one of the largest health-care fraud schemes, affecting hundreds of thousands of elderly or disabled patients nationwide, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
TAMPA – A Spring Hill man who owns two telemedicine companies has been indicted for his alleged participation in one of the largest health-care fraud schemes in the U.S., according to the U.S. Justice Department.
The national investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General has resulted in charges against 24 defendants, including the CEOs, COOs and others associated with five telemedicine companies, the owners of dozens of durable medical equipment companies and three licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving more than $1.2 billion in loss.
As part of the investigation, more than 80 search warrants were executed in in 17 federal districts. In addition, the Center for Medicare Services, Center for Program Integrity took adverse administrative action against 130 DME companies that had submitted more than $1.7 billion in claims and were paid over $900 million.
Among those charged was Willie McNeal, 42, of Spring Hill, the owner and CEO of two purported telemedicine companies, for his alleged participation in a $250 million scheme related to the solicitation of illegal kickbacks and bribes in exchange for the referral of durable medical equipment orders to DME providers.
In addition to the indictments, search and seizure warrants were executed this week at 20 different business locations, including numerous DME companies and a fraudulent telemarketing company. The search and seizures were executed by more than 100 law-enforcement officers from six federal agencies. In addition to the 20 search warrants, millions of dollars and other assets tied to the conspiracy are being seized and/or frozen, including through a civil injunction naming 13 defendants.
“Protecting the integrity of America’s health-care programs is necessary to ensure that our citizens receive the care they have paid for and deserve,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez of the Middle District of Florida. “The mammoth coordination and cooperation demonstrated among the various offices, districts, and agencies involved in this case leaves no doubt. We will leverage the full weight of our resources to combat fraud and abuse, wherever it is found.”
The charges announced today target an alleged scheme involving the payment of illegal kickbacks and bribes by DME companies in exchange for the referral of Medicare beneficiaries by medical professionals working with fraudulent telemedicine companies for back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces that are medically unnecessary. Some of the defendants allegedly controlled an international telemarketing network that lured hundreds of thousands of elderly and/or disabled patients into a criminal scheme that crossed borders, involving call centers in the Philippines and throughout Latin America. The defendants allegedly paid doctors to prescribe DME either without any patient interaction or with only a brief telephonic conversation with patients they had never met or seen. The proceeds of the fraudulent scheme were allegedly laundered through international shell corporations and used to purchase exotic automobiles, yachts and luxury real estate in the United States and abroad.
According to allegations in court documents, some of the defendants obtained patients for the scheme by using an international call center that advertised to Medicare beneficiaries and “up-sold” the beneficiaries to get them to accept numerous “free or low-cost” DME braces, regardless of medical necessity.
The international call center allegedly paid illegal kickbacks and bribes to telemedicine companies to obtain DME orders for these Medicare beneficiaries. The telemedicine companies then allegedly paid physicians to write medically unnecessary DME orders. Finally, the international call center sold the DME orders that it obtained from the telemedicine companies to DME companies, which fraudulently billed Medicare. Collectively, the CEOs, COOs, executives, business owners and medical professionals involved in the conspiracy are accused of causing more than $1 billion in loss.
A complaint, information or indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Crime | Medicare Fraud | Health-Care Fraud | Tampabay News
#Crime #MedicareFraud #HealthCareFraud #TampabayNews