Three Sentenced in $50 Million Home Health Fraud

Two physicians and a registered nurse in Louisiana were sentenced Dec. 16 for their participation in a scheme defrauding Medicare out of more than $50 million.

Barbara Smith, a 67-year old doctor from Metairie, Louisiana, was sentenced to 80 months in jail and ordered to pay $9.5 million, The Times-Picayune reported. Roy Berkowitz, a 69-year-old physician from Slidell, Louisiana, was sentenced to 64 months in jail and ordered to pay $5 million.

Meanwhile, Beverley Breaux, a 67-year-old registered nurse from New Orleans, was ordered to pay $2 million and sentenced to 50 months in prison.

In November, Joe Ann Murthil, an office manager and biller at Memorial Home Health Inc., was sentenced to four years in jail and ordered to pay $14.1 million for her involvement in the scheme. Memorial Home Health reportedly submitted about 8,000 false claims over a period of more than six years, ending in August 2013.

Berkowitz and Smith were accused of referring Medicare beneficiaries to Memorial and three additional sham agencies for home health services that were not medically necessary and, in some cases, were not performed. Breaux, meanwhile, was accused of having the home health agency submit false claims.

Slidell, Louisiana, resident Mark Morad, whom the FBI called the “mastermind” of the scheme, owned Memorial and other companies that conducted business in a similarly fraudulent manner, The Times-Picayune reported. He and Divini Luccioni, a physician, plead guilty to conspiracy charges in December 2014. Sentencing is scheduled for Luccioni on Jan. 13 and for Morad on March 9, The Times-Picayune reported, citing Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr.

Seven additional people have pled guilty in the scheme and are waiting to be sentenced, The Times-Picayune reported.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson