Monday, December 12, 2011

Houston Federal Jury Returns Guilty Verdicts in Health Care Fraud Trial


HOUSTON—Kelvin Washington, 48, of Houston, has been convicted on all counts of health care fraud, conspiracy and violations of the anti-kickback statute charged against him, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The verdicts were returned less than an hour ago after six days of trial and three-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

The evidence in the week-long trial showed that from 2003 to 2007, Washington received illegal payments for the referral of dialysis patients to a Houston ambulance transport service. In addition, he conspired with others to have unsuspecting doctors sign transport prescriptions for dialysis patients never admitted to a Sugar Land nursing home where he worked.

Testimony at trial showed that Washington was paid for the referral of dialysis patients to an ambulance service that was under contract with the nursing home where he worked. The evidence also showed that he would present prescriptions to doctors who worked at the nursing home. The doctors testified that they would not have signed the prescriptions if they had known the various patients were never admitted to the nursing home.

The jury also heard evidence that the ambulance service paid the Washington in checks totaling $22,200 with many tied to specific patients. Washington did not report all the income he made to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from the ambulance service. At trial, an undercover video and audio tape showed one of the managers of the ambulance company bribing a patient to ride with the ambulance company. The ambulance company would later bill Medicare for this patient, a paid informant whose own doctors would not sign a prescription for him. The bill to Medicare was based upon a false script from the nursing home administrator. In a search warrant executed on a co-conspirator’s home, “The List” was discovered which detailed payments made not only to Washington but also to patients who rode with the ambulance service. A computer file from that home also showed detailed records tracking payments for patients, the check numbers for those payments and the fact that payments were made to the defendant.

The false scripts alone resulted in $1.2 million billed to Medicare and Medicaid and approximately $450,000 paid.

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