Two Houston, Texas-area home health agency owners, among others, were sentenced last week for their roles in a $3 million Medicare fraud scheme.
Owners of Jackson Home Healthcare, Inc., Valnita Turner, 48, and Valdie Jackson, 43, along with hospital employee Jarvis Thomas and Dr. Nick Patzakis, a physician, were among those sentenced Friday by a U.S. Judge in the Southern District of Texas.
Court documents revealed that Turner and Jackson purchased stolen patient information from Jarvis Thomas, a hospital administrative employee, and used the stolen info to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare for services purportedly provided by three home health agencies operating in the Houston area: Houston Compassionate Care, Inc.; Jackson Home Healthcare, Inc.; and Prestige Health Services, Inc.
Additionally, Turner and Jackson also fraudulently billed the Medicare program for medically unnecessary home health services that were never ordered by a doctor and relied on doctors, including Dr. Patzakis, to falsely sign medical documents, according to court documents.
For her role, Valnita Turner was sentenced to serve 151 months in prison. In addition to the prison term, she was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $3,011,899.09 in restitution, jointly and severally with her co-defendants.
Valdie Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in September 2013. His sentence includes 12 months and one day in prison, along with three years of supervised release and an order to pay $1,551,482.21 in restitution, both jointly and severally with his co-defendants.
For his role, Dr. Patzakis pleased guilty to one count of false statements relating to health care matters in September 2013 and was sentenced Friday to time served and three years of supervised release. In addition to his prison term, Patzakis was ordered to pay $95,947.57 in restitution, jointly and severally with the co-defendants.
Finally, Jarvis Thomas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to disclose individually identifiable health information, also in September 2013. His sentencing includes time served as well as three years of supervised release and to pay $1,348,644.75 in restitution, jointly and severally.
Friday’s sentencing arrives just shy of a full year since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its first-ever moratorium to bar new home health care entrants to the Medicare program in three select metros—Houston included.
Written by Jason Oliva