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May 4, 2021

After being convicted of running a $11 million healthcare fraud scheme, Brenda Rodriguez, the owner and operator of Texas-based QC Medical Clinic, has been ordered to spend 25 years in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  As shown by evidence presented at trial, Rodriguez’s scheme involved paying doctors to approve Medicare beneficiaries for home health services, selling the approvals to various home health providers, and causing the providers to bill Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary, never provided, and/or arose from illegal inducements.  USAO SDTX

April 29, 2021

Over two dozen defendants who were part of an extensive prescription drug fraud scheme involving Alabama-based Northside Pharmacy d/b/a Global Compounding Pharmacy have been sentenced to prison.  The defendants included company executives and managers, prescribers, billers, and sales representatives who, between 2013 and 2016, billed insurers such as Medicare and TRICARE for massive quantities of medically unnecessary prescription drugs.  In just that short period of time, the defendants caused insurers to pay nearly $50 million in medically unnecessary claims, with more than $13 million arising from improper payments to prescribers, and more than $8.4 million for prescriptions written out to Global employees themselves.  USAO NDAL

April 27, 2021

Indivior plc and Indivior Inc., will pay $300 million to settle claims from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, alleging they caused the misuse of state Medicaid funds by falsely marketing the drug Suboxone.  Suboxone is used by recovering opioid addicts to reduce withdrawal symptoms.  According to the governments, Indivior promoted the sale and use of Suboxone for unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary purposes, including by claiming it was less susceptible to abuse even though the active ingredient, buprenorphine, is a powerful opioid itself.  Additionally, the company took steps to fraudulently delay the entry of generic alternatives in order to control pricing.  The settlement resolves six whistleblower suits pending in New Jersey and Virginia.  Indivior previously paid $600 million to resolve federal claims, and former parent company Reckitt Benckiser previously paid $1.4 billion to resolve the same.  CA AG; FL AG; MI AG

March 18, 2021

A Michigan-based cardiologist, Dinesh Shah, and his practice, Michigan Physicians Group, P.C. (MPG), have agreed to pay $2 million to resolve allegations of defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE by submitting claims for medically unnecessary diagnostic testing, in violation of the False Claims Act.  In separate qui tam suits filed by former employees Arlene Klinke and Khrystyna Mala, the whistleblowers alleged that between 2006 and 2017, Shah and MPG billed government healthcare programs for Ankle Brachial Index tests, Toe Brachial Index tests, and Nuclear Stress Tests that were ordered and provided without regard to necessity.  USAO EDMI

March 16, 2021

Jack Lee Stapleton and Jack Hunter Stapleton, the former owners of a Florida-based telemarketing company known as CV McDowell LLC or J&J Tel Marketing LLC (the Stapleton Entities), have agreed to pay at least $4 million to resolve a qui tam case by a former employee alleging violations of the False Claims Act.  According to whistleblower Dwayne Thornton, the Stapletons solicited prospective patients through telemarketing calls, convinced them to accept compounded drugs regardless of need, and then procured prescriptions and sent them to compounding pharmacies that agreed to pay the Stapletons half of all TRICARE reimbursements.  USAO MDFL

March 8, 2021

Vascular surgeon Feng Qin and his medical practice Qin Medical P.C. will pay $800,000 to resolve civil claims and criminal charges that Qin performed procedures on end-stage renal disease patients that were not medically reasonable and necessary, and fraudulently billed Medicare.  Qin performed vascular access procedures on patients on a routine scheduled basis, without documenting the required clinical findings.  The government’s investigation was initiated by the filing of a qui tam complaint by Mark Favors.   USAO SDNY

March 3, 2021

The CEO of a group of medical providers in Michigan and Ohio has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay over $51 million in restitution to Medicare, as well as forfeit over $11.5 million in cash along with multiple properties and a Detroit Pistons season ticket membership, following a trial that found him guilty for his role in an extensive fraud scheme against Medicare.  Mashiyat Rashid, the CEO of Tri-County Wellness Group, allegedly instituted a corporate policy that forced patients—many of whom were addicted to opioids and recruited from homeless shelters and soup kitchens—to submit to medically unnecessary but highly reimbursed back injections in exchange for prescriptions to medically unnecessary opioids.  To implement the policy, Rashid made a point to hire physicians who were willing to put profit over patient care, further incentivizing them by offering to split reimbursements with them.  Yet according to trial testimony, many of the patients did not want, need, or benefit from the painful back injections, which left some of them suffering from adverse conditions, including open holes in their back.  Rashid is the second defendant to be sentenced in this case; twenty-one other defendants, including two physicians, have been convicted so far. DOJ

February 19, 2021

Antonio Olivera, a hospice administrator in Southern California, has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2.2 million in restitution for his role in a multimillion dollar fraud scheme that ran from 2011 to 2018.  Together with three co-conspirators, Olivera paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters for referrals of Medicare beneficiaries to the hospice, Mhiramarc Management LLC.  When Mhiramarc staffers realized the referrals did not qualify for hospice, Olivera overruled them and caused the referrals to be put on hospice, ultimately causing Medicare to pay over $17 million in false claims.  DOJ

February 4, 2021

Durable medical equipment company Regency, Inc., has agreed to a $20.3 million civil settlement to resolve allegations that, together with its principal Kelly Wolfe, it violated the False Claims Act by creating dozens of front companies to submit over $400 million in false claims to government healthcare programs for the sale of DME that was not medically necessary.  Defendants were alleged to have paid unlawful kickbacks to doctors and falsely claimed that those doctors provided telehealth services to the beneficiaries, when in most cases the doctors had no interaction at all with the beneficiaries.  Wolfe also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and will be sentenced at a later date.  Former Regency employee Condra Albright will receive 23% of the civil recovery as a whistleblower reward.  DOJ; USAO MD FL

February 3, 2021

The former CEO of Texas hospice and home health chain the Merida Group, Henry McInnis, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison following his conviction for healthcare fraud and alleged charges.  McInnis and his co-conspirator Rondey Mesquias, who was previously sentenced to 20 years in prison, submitted over $150 million in fraudulent Medicare bills between 2009 and 2018 by falsifying medical records and telling thousands of patients with long-term incurable diseases they had less than six months to live in order to enroll the patients in hospice programs for which they were otherwise unqualified.  In addition, McInnis directed Merida’s practice of paying physicians bogus “medical director” fees in exchange for those doctors falsely certifying unqualified patients for hospice and home health, as well as paying improper kickbacks to patient recruiters.  DOJ
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