Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Emilio Haber Sentenced to Serve 60 Months in Prison for Role in $8.5 Million Diagnostic Testing Fraud Scheme


WASHINGTON – The owner of a Detroit-area health care clinic was sentenced today to serve 60 months in prison for his leading role in an $8.5 million Medicare fraud scheme, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.

Miami-area resident Emilio Haber, 53, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan in the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit. In addition to his prison term, Haber was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $6,341,000 in restitution, joint and several with his co-defendants, and was ordered to forfeit approximately $99,000 seized from bank accounts he controlled.

On Oct. 26, 2012, Haber pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. According to plea documents, Haber conceived and oversaw fraud schemes at two clinics, Ritecare LLC and CompleteHealth LLC. Haber incorporated and opened Ritecare and CompleteHealth in the state of Michigan in 2007. CompleteHealth merged into Ritecare in July 2008.

According to court documents, while operating CompleteHealth and Ritecare, Haber and his co-conspirators billed Medicare for medically unnecessary tests and services, including, but not limited to, nerve conduction studies. Haber obtained patients for the clinics through the payment of kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries and patient recruiters. Haber admitted that he and other co-conspirators paid patient recruiters $100-$150 per patient obtained, with $50-$75 to go to the patient in exchange for visiting Ritecare and subjecting themselves to medically unnecessary tests.

To justify the medically unnecessary tests, Haber admitted that he and other co-conspirators told patient recruiters to instruct the patients to feign certain symptoms. Haber and other co-conspirators also directly instructed patients to feign symptoms. The kickbacks paid to the recruiters and the patients were contingent upon the Medicare beneficiaries identifying the symptoms necessary to justify medically unnecessary tests. Consequently, the patients’ medical records contained false or fabricated symptoms allowing Ritecare to deceive Medicare as to the legitimacy and medical necessity of the tests it performed.

The department said that between approximately August 2007 and approximately October 2009, Haber and his co-conspirators at CompleteHealth and Ritecare submitted and/or caused to be submitted approximately $8.5 million in fraudulent claims to the Medicare program for medical and testing services that were medically unnecessary and procured through the payment of kickbacks. Medicare paid approximately $6.3 million of those claims.

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