A second criminal trial opened Monday in Baton Rouge federal court for two New Orleans residents facing allegations of multimillion-dollar Medicare frauds.

The case is complicated by the murder in July of a federal witness. It features claims by federal prosecutors that the frauds totaled as much as $17 million. It includes retorts by defense attorneys that all crimes were the work of people who pleaded guilty.

Former spouses Louis T. Age, 64, and Verna S. Age, 60, operated South Louisiana Home Health Care Inc. in the New Orleans and Houma areas, according to an indictment. That indictment allegesthe pair participated in a scheme to pay kickbacks to physicians and patient recruiters between January 2005 and December 2010.

The recruiters obtained Medicare numbers and other identifying information from people who did not need home health care services, according to the indictment.

And physicians allegedly prescribed those services without examining or even talking to patients.

At their October trial, Verna Age was convicted of conspiracy to pay or receive health-care kickbacks. Jurors deadlocked on a charge that she also conspired to commit health-care fraud.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous decision in October on either of two identical charges against Louis Age.

Defense attorneys claim the massive frauds were caused by Ayanna Age Alverez, 40, daughter of Louis Age. Alverez, of New Orleans, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health-care fraud, conspiracy to pay or receive health-care kickbacks and making a false statement for Medicare benefits.

Patient recruiter Milton L. Womack, 60, of New Orleans, agreed to plead guilty and become a federal witness last summer.

But Womack died after suffering multiple gunshot wounds in July.