A Texas federal jury has convicted a Houston-based home-health agency owner for her role in a Medicare fraud scheme that spawned $13 million in false claims to Medicare, the Department of Justice announced.
Marie Neba, 52, of Sugarland, Texas, will be sentenced early next year for conviction on charges including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, payment and receipt of health care kickbacks, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and making false statements.
Neba was co-owner of Fiango Home Healthcare. Her husband Ebong Tilong was also a co-owner. He pleaded guilty to similar charges.
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The DOJ said evidence presented at trial and admissions made in connection with Tilong's plea showed that during the nine-year scheme, from February 2006 through June 2015, Neba and Tilong paid illegal kickbacks to several groups in a scheme that bilked Medicare for $13 million. First, physicians were paid kickbacks in exchange for authorizing home-health services for Medicare beneficiaries that weren't needed. Using the Medicare reimbursements, Neba and Tilong paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters for referring Medicare beneficiaries for those services. Kickbacks were also paid to Medicare beneficiaries for allowing Neba and Tilong to use their Medicare information to bill the agency for home-health services that were either not needed or never provided. The pair also falsified medical records to make it appear as though the Medicare beneficiaries qualified for and received home-health services, the DOJ said.
Three others have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme. The IRS, FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, supervised by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Texas.