Healthcare News & Insights

Nurse pleads guilty to $25M Medicare fraud scheme

A Miami-area nurse has pleaded guilty to her part in a huge scam.

Farah Maria Perez pleaded guilty  to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, according to a joint announcement by the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Perez worked for Florida Home Health Care Providers Inc., a home health care agency. The agency was supposed to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare patients. In truth, the company existed primarily to bill Medicare for physical therapy and other services that either weren’t needed and/or were never provided.

According to prosecutors, between January 2006 and March 2009, Perez and her co-defendants falsified patient files for Medicare beneficiaries to make it appear that they qualified for home health care and therapy services.  Perez admitted she knew the beneficiaries didn’t qualify for and didn’t receive the services and that the files were being changed so that the Medicare program could be billed for medically unnecessary therapy and home health related services.

Perez also admitted recruiting Medicare beneficiaries who agreed to let the agency bill Medicare for services that were unnecessary or never provided.

Four of her co-conspirators who were charged in the February 2011 indictment, Jose Nunez, M.D.; Lisandra Alonso; Luisa Morciego; and Vicente Guerra, have also pleaded guilty.

Perez’s sentencing is scheduled for November of this year. She faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years in addition to fines, supervised release, and forfeiture of any property or proceeds derived from her criminal activities.

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