Stephanie Dangerfield, an admitted participant in a fraudulent scheme that netted more than $1 million from Medicare, was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in federal prison.
Dangerfield, 50, of Baton Rouge, still faces trials in two other Medicare fraud cases that federal prosecutors say drained more than $14 million from the nation’s insurer for the elderly and disabled.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge James J. Brady ordered Dangerfield to pay restitution of $688,178 and forfeit assets of that same amount.
Dangerfield had admitted that she recruited patients to accept unnecessary power wheelchairs, braces and other durable medical equipment sold by Medical Supplies of Baton Rouge Inc.
That firm was owned by Baton Rouge businessmen Samuel B. Johnson and Thompson W. Chinwoh.
Johnson, 48, was sentenced in June to a five-year prison term. Brady also ordered him to pay restitution of $878,280 and forfeit $928,280 in assets.
Chinwoh, 57, was sentenced last month to four years’ imprisonment, ordered to pay restitution of $878,280 and told to forfeit assets of that same amount.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alan Stevens, Catherine M. Maraist, Helina Dayries and Chris Dippel prosecuted the case for the Baton Rouge Medicare Fraud Strike Force.
In the two cases pending against Dangerfield, Justice Department prosecutors Ben Curtis and David Maria allege in court filings that she and other patient recruiters would direct Medicare beneficiaries to preferred physicians.
Those physicians, the prosecutors allege, “were willing to sign prescriptions (for unnecessary equipment) after conducting cursory examinations, or no examinations at all.”
Dangerfield and other recruiters “would then pay the physicians … for the medically unnecessary prescriptions,” Maria and Curtis allege.
“In some instances, the recruiters … would forge the signature of a physician,” Curtis and Maria contend.
Dangerfield and other recruiters “would then sell these phony prescriptions” to the owners of medical-equipment retailers who would bill Medicare for reimbursement, the prosecutors allege.
Investigators for the Strike Force are from the Dallas regional Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FBI, U.S. Department of Justice and the Louisiana Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.