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Medicare fraud scheme puts Louisiana woman, others behind bars

A recent report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicates that a 47-year-old woman from Louisiana will be placed in prison. She has been accused of Medicare fraud and was sentenced earlier this month after pleading guilty to a single conspiracy to commit fraud charge in January. Although there was no indication the defendant sought the services of a criminal defense attorney in this case, in cases involving criminal charges of any kind, a defendant would be wise to do so before pleading guilty.

The woman allegedly worked for several companies in Louisiana that sold durable medical equipment to Medicare patients. According to the FBI, the scheme involved a network of fraudulent claims and illegal payments made to patient recruiters, the company and possibly patients for unnecessary durable medical equipment.

The 47-year-old was a patient recruiter for the companies in question between the years of 2004 and 2009, a timeframe during which the companies allegedly made more than $21 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare. The recently sentenced woman was one of many patient recruiters tasked with obtaining prescriptions for medical equipment. This equipment included power wheelchairs, wheelchair accessories, arm braces and leg braces.

Prescriptions were received as was information from Medicare beneficiaries. Some prescriptions were falsified and then used to submit illegitimate claims to Medicare. According to allegations, the prescriptions that the 47-year-old collected accounted for $6 million in illegal Medicare claims.

The woman was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 18 months in prison. In addition, she will be supervised for a period of two years after her release from prison and will be required to pay $3.18 million as restitution for her supposed crimes. Documents show that eight other defendants have been sentenced in regards to this scheme with three more people still awaiting their sentences. In most criminal cases, the sooner a defense attorney is contacted the more effective he or she will be in developing an effective strategy in response to any charges.

Agencies involved in the case included the Louisiana State Attorney General's Office, the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice. A task force, known as the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, has been operating since March 2007. It was also involved in this case. According to reports, the task force has charged more than 1,300 individuals with fraudulently charging Medicare for a total of more than $4 billion.

Source: FBI, "Louisiana Resident Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Role in Medicare Fraud," Sept. 11, 2012

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