Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sandra Jimenez Pleads Guilty to Participating in $200 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme


WASHINGTON – A Miami-area resident pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Miami for her role in a Medicare fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $200 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Sandra Jimenez, 38, admitted to participating in a fraud scheme that was orchestrated by the owners and operators of American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC); its management company, Medlink Professional Management Group Inc.; and the American Sleep Institute (ASI). ATC, Medlink and ASI were all Florida corporations headquartered in Miami. ATC operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) – a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness – in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando. ASI purported to provide diagnostic sleep disorder testing.

Jimenez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive illegal health care kickbacks. Jimenez was charged in an indictment unsealed on Feb. 15, 2011, in the Southern District of Florida.

According to court filings, ATC’s owners and operators paid kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities (ALFs) and halfway houses and to patient brokers in exchange for delivering ineligible patients to ATC and ASI. In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks. Throughout the course of the ATC and ASI conspiracy, millions of dollars in kickbacks were paid in exchange for Medicare beneficiaries, who did not qualify for PHP services, to attend treatment programs that were not legitimate PHPs. ATC and ASI then billed Medicare for the medically unnecessary services. According to court filings, to obtain the cash required to support the kickbacks, the co-conspirators laundered millions of dollars of payments from Medicare.

In pleading guilty, Jimenez admitted that she served as a marketer for ATC and ASI. In this role, Jimenez solicited beneficiaries and paid kickbacks to assisted living facility owners in exchange for the beneficiaries. The amount of the kickback was based on the number of days each patient spent at ATC.

Jimenez also admitted that she participated in a separate Medicare fraud scheme through Priority Home Health, a Miami home health agency that submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for home health services . Jimenez and her co-conspirators recruited Medicare beneficiaries to Priority Home Health who did not qualify for home health services.

According to the plea agreement, Jimenez’s participation in the ATC fraud and the Priority Home Health fraud resulted in $46 million in fraudulent billings to the Medicare program.

Sentencing for Jimenez is scheduled for June 27, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. Jimenez faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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