Couple Operating Nursing Homes Charged with Multi-Million Dollar Medicare Fraud

As reported by BusinessWeek online, two nursing home operators were charged last week with plotting to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid programs of more than $30 million and providing nearly 300 elderly residents with "worthless and harmful" care.

Prosecutors say the two, who ran a health care group operating three nursing home facilities, submitted the fraudulent claims from 2004 until the state closed the three nursing homes in 2007. The two pleaded not guilty to the charges Friday in federal court and were released on bond. The U.S. Attorney working with the case said the married couple used the money "to buy cars and real estate while their nursing home residents went without basic necessities, such as food and medicines." She said the services that did trickle down to the elderly were "so far below Medicare and Medicaid standards that they were worthless and harmful."

Prosecutors say the two started pilfering the money in 2004, around the same time they began having problems meeting their payroll. They failed to repair washing machines, air conditioning and a leaking roof, according to an indictment. Pantry stocks were so low that some employees spent their own money -- even as their paychecks were bouncing -- to buy the residents milk, bread and other staples, the indictment said.

Much of the nursing staff eventually resigned because their employer was writing bad paychecks, authorities say. All the while, prosecutors say, the couple was using the company's account as their own. The couple bought a Mercedes-Benz with some of the funds About $1.3 million from the account also went to buy the man's ex-wife a home in Atlanta.

Authorities say they will continue to investigate and root out health care fraud.
"Pure greed being placed above the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens will not be tolerated," said a representative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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