7 Defendants Charged in $56 Million New Orleans Home Health Fraud

Seven defendants were charged this week for their participation in a $56 million New Orleans home health fraud scheme, bringing the defendant count in the case to 13. 

Of the 13 defendants, three pleaded guilty this week to the charges. 

The scheme was conducted from 2007 to 2014 through several companies that purported to offer home health services and durable medical equipment. The companies were based in and around New Orleans and included Interlink Health Care Services Inc., Memorial Home Health Inc., Lakeland Health Care Services Inc., Lexmark Health Care LLC, Med Rite Pharmacy Inc. and Medical Specialists of New Orleans. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the companies billed Medicare claiming they provided services and equipment, when in fact those services and equipment were not provided or were not medically necessary. 

In addition, kickbacks were paid to patient recruiters, who were among those indicted this week. To hide the kickbacks, one of the defendants allegedly laundered Medicare payments through a separate company under his ownership. 

Those charged this week include Paige Okpalobi, 57, of Slidell, Louisiana; Joe Ann Murthil, 57, of New Orleans; Latausha Dannel, 34, of Laplace, Louisiana; Dr. Winston Murray, 62, of Hammond, Louisiana; Dr. Divini Luccioni, 53, of Kenner, Louisiana; Christopher White, 48, of Destrehan, Louisiana; and Beverly Breaux, 66, of New Orleans. 

The case is being investigated by HHS-OIG and the FBI. It was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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