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Healthcare company owner pleads guilty to Medicare fraud

An owner of a Houston healthcare company pled guilty Monday in connection with a $654,227 Medicare fraud scheme, announced the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS).

Simone Ball, 24, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal in Houston to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.

According to court documents, Ball was an owner and operator of Preferred Plus Medical Supply, which maintained a valid Medicare provider number in order to submit Medicare claims for the costs of durable medical equipment (DME) and purported to provide orthotics and other DME to Medicare beneficiaries.

Preferred Plus submitted claims to Medicare for DME, including orthotic devices, which were medically unnecessary and/or not provided. Many of the orthotic devices were components of "arthritis kits," and alleged to be for the treatment of arthritis-related conditions, although they were neither medically necessary nor appropriate for such conditions. In total, from August through December 2008, Preferred Plus submitted approximately $654,227 in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

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At sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 12, 2011, Ball faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine districts have obtained indictments of more than 1,000 individuals who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.3 billion.