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Sentences determined for couple accused of health care fraud

A former couple from Slidell, Louisiana, has been sentenced in a case filed against them by the federal government. According to reports, the 60-year-old woman and her 63-year-old former husband were accused of fraud charges related to health care, specifically targeting Medicare. She has been sentenced to five years in prison, while he was sentenced to 15 years. The U.S. District judge presiding over the case ruled that the couple will have to repay $17.1 million -- the figure they allegedly defrauded the Medicare program for - in restitution, and they must also forfeit $9.2 million.

Between 2005 and 2011, authorities believe the woman and man used the man's company to commit Medicare fraud. He owned a health care company known as South Louisiana Home Health Care that provided individuals in need of home health care with necessary services. During that 6-year period, the federal government believes the owner and his ex-wife - who was the company's director of nursing - began making fraudulent claims about services provided by the business. Charges suggest the woman and man were paying kickbacks to patient recruiters in order to get Medicare beneficiary information. Authorities believe nurses would falsify qualification documents in order to make it seem as though the beneficiaries needed the services provided by the company.

Physicians would then be paid to sign allegedly fraudulent certifications and referrals, stating that such services were necessary for the health of the beneficiaries. Without these signatures and the qualification documents, the company would not have been able to charge Medicare. Supposedly, this is how the woman and man committed $17.1 million worth of Medicare fraud. The couple was officially charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and conspiracy to pay or receive illegal health care kickbacks.

If you have been charged with fraud, speak with an experienced attorney about your case in order to determine your next steps. Federal charges, such as the ones listed above, carry significant penalties. Your attorney can determine the best course of action for building a strong defense to give you the best chance a positive outcome in your case.

Source: NOLA.com, "Slidell couple sentenced in $17 million Medicare fraud scheme" Heather Nolan, Aug. 15, 2013

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