A Florida nurse practitioner has been convicted on a raft of charges connected to a scheme that prosecutors say defrauded Medicare out of approximately $200 million. On Sept. 20, a federal jury returned guilty verdicts on eight charges including four counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud. When the 45-year-old woman is sentenced on Dec. 14, she could be sent to a federal prison for up to 75 years.
According to court documents, the nurse practitioner placed an unusually large number of orders for genetic tests and orthotic braces. Investigators who suspected that health care crimes were being committed discovered that the orders had been generated by telemarketing companies and the tests and equipment were not medically necessary. The woman also billed Medicare for up to 24 hours of office visits per day even though she never met or spent time with her patients. In 2020, prosecutors say the nurse practitioner ordered more cancer genetic tests than any of the nation’s oncologists or geneticists.
A U.S. Department of Justice press release reveals that the woman earned approximately $1.6 million from the Medicare fraud scheme. Prosecutors say she used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included luxury automobiles, expensive jewelry, major home renovations and frequent foreign vacations. Several of the woman’s coconspirators have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced for the roles they played in the scheme.
A harsh sentence is likely
This woman will likely receive a harsh sentence because of the sums involved and her decision to take her chances with a jury. Her coconspirators will probably spend much less time behind bars. Federal prosecutors pursue white-collar crime cases when they have compelling evidence like bank records and other financial documents, but they are usually willing to recommend lenient sentences when defendants are prepared to plead guilty.