Ten people, including a physician and registered nurse, are charged in Baton Rouge for allegedly filing $24 million in false claims against Medicare, Justice Department officials announced Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
One indictment in Baton Rouge federal court contains charges against six people in New Orleans and a seventh in the Terrebonne Parish community of Gray.
Three residents of Plaquemine in Iberville Parish are targeted in a second indictment.
The alleged false claims against Medicare were for home health care and medical equipment that either was medically unnecessary or never provided to patients, according to the announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The 10 people indicted in Baton Rouge were among 91 charged in eight cities, from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, Justice Department officials announced.
They alleged that the bogus Medicare claims in the nationwide roundup totaled $295 million.
“The defendants allegedly treated the Medicare program like a personal piggy bank,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said.
In Baton Rouge, an indictment obtained by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alan A. Stevens and J. Christopher Dippel Jr. targets three Plaquemine women.
Charged with conspiracy and health care fraud are Linda M. Jackson, 49; her mother, Eunice Sparrow, 67; and one of Jackson’s daughters, Uniecesco Smith, 29.
Jackson is identified in the indictment as having “operated, managed and held an ownership interest in A&A Durable Medical Supply LLC” in Plaquemine.
Sparrow was assistant manager at A&A, according to the indictment.
Smith “worked for A&A and was involved in A&A’s operations and billing,” the indictment states.
Between April 2007 and April 2009, the indictment alleges, the three women used A&A to fraudulently bill Medicare more than $4.8 million for equipment that was either medically unnecessary or never provided to patients.
That total includes $2.3 million for power wheelchairs that were never provided, the indictment charges.
The second Baton Rouge indictment was obtained by Justice Department prosecutor David M. Maria.
Defendants include Dr. Michael S. Hunter, 54, of New Orleans, and Kathy A. Perio, 46, a registered nurse in Gray. They are charged with conspiracy to commit health-care fraud.
Hunter also is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and receive and pay kickbacks.
Also charged with one or more conspiracy counts are New Orleans residents Ayanna A. Alverez, 38; Louis T. Age, 62; Verna S. Age, 58; Milton L. Womack, 59; and Mary L. Johnson, 59.
Between January 2005 and December 2010, the indictment states, South Louisiana Home Health Care Inc. of Houma and New Orleans billed $19.3 million to Medicare and actually received $14.9 million for home healthcare services mentioned in those bills.
Louis Age owned the firm, and Verna Age was its director of nursing, according to the indictment. Both are alleged to have paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters.
Perio is alleged to have falsified records of patients so the firm could bill Medicare for medically unnecessary services.
Alverez is alleged to have paid kickbacks to patient recruiters.
Womack and Johnson are alleged to have accepted kickbacks in return for referring patients to the firm.