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Government Enforcement Actions

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February 6, 2020

A patient recruiter in Kentucky has been sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay or forfeit over $1.2 million in total for accepting more than $1 million in kickbacks from home health agencies in exchange for providing information about Medicare beneficiaries.  The owner of Trumbo Consulting Agency in Virginia, Dominic Trumbo recruited and paid others to recruit over 4,000 Medicare beneficiaries for home health services by offering incentives to get them to sign up.  Trumbo then sold the information to home health agencies around the country in exchange for kickbacks, then created fake contracts and invoices to conceal the fraud from Medicare.  DOJ

February 6, 2020

February 6, 2020 -- The successor to the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, CRA/LA, has agreed to pay $3.1 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that the agency failed to comply with federal accessibility laws while distributing federal funds to help develop affordable housing.  Federal accessibility laws require that 5% of all units in certain federally-funded housing be accessible to people with mobility issues, and an additional 2% of all units be accessible for people with visual or auditory impairments.  However, according to whistleblower and wheelchair user Mei Ling, at least nine agency-affiliated properties lacked accessible parking spaces, appropriate ramp and height access for wheelchair users, or appropriate visual and tactile signs for people with visual or auditory impairments.  DOJ; USAO CDCA

February 4, 2020

Southeastern Retina Associates (SERA), which operates in parts of Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia, has agreed to pay $1.5 million and enter into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for allegedly defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.  The investigation was launched by a qui tam suit filed by an unnamed whistleblower, which alleged that between 2009 to 2016, the practice improperly billed exams at a higher rate than appropriate, and used a billing code called Modifier 25 to bill for exams that were not separately billable from other services billed the same day.  For exposing the misconduct, the relator in this case will receive a $270,000 share of the settlement.  USAO EDTN

February 3, 2020

Senthil Kumar Ramamurthy of Texas has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for participating in two fraud schemes that amounted to $9.6 million in losses by Medicare and TRICARE.  In the first scheme, which ran for 10 months in 2014, Ramamurthy and his co-conspirators were paid millions of dollars by compounding pharmacies to get TRICARE beneficiaries to sign up for medically unnecessary compounded prescription drugs.  To get beneficiaries to sign up, defendants had falsely represented that the drugs would be free, when in fact co-payments were required.  In the second scheme, which ran from 2015 onward, Ramamurthy and his co-conspirators paid doctors to refer Medicare beneficiaries—without first examining them—for needless genetic cancer screening tests.  Many of Ramamurthy's co-conspirators have plead guilty and face sentencing later this month.  USAO SDFL

January 31, 2020

A former financial adviser, Li Lin Hsu, AKA Yilin Hsu Lee, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay $5.3 million in restitution to the 20 victims of her $8.1 million Ponzi scheme.  Hsu began her scheme in 2014 while employed at Ameriprise Financial, promising victim investors, including her own relatives, that their funds would go toward low risk municipal bonds when in fact they were going toward homes in affluent neighborhoods, a luxury car, a luxury vacation, and luxury goods for Hsu herself. When Ameriprise discovered the misconduct in 2015, Hsu was fired and then barred by FINRA from working in the investment business, but not before she began her own companies, American Trading Group LLC and American Capital Republic, Inc, where she managed to defraud additional investors.  USAO CDCA

January 31, 2020

Airbus SE has agreed to pay more than $3.9 billion to resolve charges by U.S., U.K., and French authorities of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).  From at least 2008 until 2015, the French aircraft manufacturer allegedly paid bribes to officials in China, Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan, in exchange for improper business advantages and other favorable treatment.  Additionally, Airbus also failed to provide accurate information to the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) about commissions it paid in connection with the sale or export of arms.  DOJ; USAO DC

January 31, 2020

A bidder in the sale of a loan from the Department of Energy has agreed to pay $29 million to resolve allegations of colluding to rig the auction of the loan, thus depriving the agency of a fair bidding process and reducing the amount recovered by the agency.  The allegations that Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC, Hybrid Technology LLC, and Ace Strength International LTD exerted pressure on two other bidders to suppress their bids during the live auction were made by whistleblowers William Baldiga and the FAH Liquidating Trust in a qui tam suit.  The relators will share in $5.2 million of the recovery.  DOJ; USAO DC

January 30, 2020

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $344 million to the State of California for misrepresenting the safety of its pelvic mesh implants, which were sold from 2008 to 2014 and have resulted in over 35,000 personal injury lawsuits nationwide.  The State of California brought suit in 2016 after finding the company failed to inform patients and their doctors of possible severe complications, including chronic pain and permanent dysfunctional elimination.  Johnson and Johnson previously settled similar allegations with some 40 other states, for $117 million, in October of last year.  CA AG

January 29, 2020

Christopher Dillon of New York has been sentenced to over 4 years in prison and ordered to pay over $5 million in restitution for his role in defrauding 27 investors of over $5 million.  Along with co-defendant Gilbert Lynagh, Dillon formed two companies, i2i Capital and i2i Settlement Partners LLC, and made false representations to investors regarding the nature of the investment and possible risks and rates of return.  Dillon and Lynagh then used investor funds to cover personal expenses, causing at least five investors to suffer substantial financial hardship.  USAO WDNY

January 29, 2020

A Florida-based physician, Erik Schabert, and his ex-wife, Mika Harris, have been sentenced to 3.5 years and 3 months in prison, and ordered to pay almost $4.5 million in restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield for attempting to defraud the insurer and the Medicare program of more than $8 million.  Between 2013 and 2016, the two owners and operators of Reliant Family Practice falsely diagnosed actinic keratosis and rosacea in order to make fraudulent claims for chemical peels and dermabrasions.  Along with prison time and restitution, the two have forfeited their private residence, commercial property, and over $260,000 in an annuity account, to the federal government.  USAO NDFL
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