A New Orleans federal jury convicted the owner of a health care company Saturday for orchestrating a scheme to defraud Medicare through false and inflated billings and illegal kickbacks.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Tracy Richardson Brown, 46, owner and operator of a durable medical equipment supply company called Pslams 23 DME LLC, cost U.S. taxpayers $1.9 million in fraudulent schemes she conducted in and around New Orleans.
U.S. attorneys produced evidence that Ms. Brown and her company billed the Medicare program for medical equipment and orthotics that they never provided to patients. The U.S. also alleged that Ms. Brown and Psalms provided patients with medical supplies they did not need for the sole purpose of billing Medicare.
Ms. Brown and her company paid patient recruiters for the names and Medicare numbers of Medicare recipients in the New Orleans area and then used that information to bill Medicare, claiming that Psalms provided them with power wheelchairs, accessories, and orthotics. However, a federal investigation of the scheme found that in the vast majority of cases, the patients never received or didn’t want the items Medicare reimbursed Psalms for.
Prosecutors also alleged Ms. Brown engaged in “upcoding,” billing Medicare as if she provided patients with high-cost back and knee braces, when she in reality she provided them with much cheaper versions.
Ms. Brown and Psalms billed Medicare or more than $3.2 million in claims, most of which were fraudulent, the U.S. alleged. Medicare paid Psalms $1.9 million on these claims.
After a five-day trial, the jury convicted Ms. Brown of 18 counts total: one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, nine counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay illegal kickbacks, and seven counts of paying illegal kickbacks. Ms. Brown’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 10.
The False Claims Act case against Ms. Brown and Psalms was the result of an investigation initiated by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which has charged about 2,300 defendants with fraudulently billing Medicare for more than $7 billion since 2007.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice