Doctors, Nurses, Therapists Arrested For Medicare Fraud

Agents raided health care facilities in 9 states as one of largest busts ever

ByABC News
February 17, 2011, 11:41 AM

Feb. 17, 2011 -- Federal agents raided health care facilities in nine states this morning, arresting dozens of suspects believed to be defrauding Medicare of tens of millions of dollars.

Federal authorities say this is one of the largest -- if not the largest -- take-down of Medicare fraud suspects ever conducted.

The raids began this morning in the pre-dawn hours. The targets: more than 100 doctors, nurses, therapists and healthcare company executives who have allegedly been stealing tax dollars to the tune of $200 million in recent months. Much of the fraud involved healthcare professionals billing the government for medical services never performed and medicine not provided.

The raids were conducted in Miami, Brooklyn, Tampa, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

"With this takedown, we have identified and shut down large-scale fraud schemes operating throughout the country. We have safeguarded precious taxpayer dollars. And we have helped to protect our nation's most essential health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid," said Attorney General Holder. "As today's arrests prove, we are waging an aggressive fight against health care fraud."

ABC News was on the scene when federal agents closed in on a string of physical therapy clinics in Brooklyn, N.Y., this morning. Sources say the three clinics are suspected of bilking Medicare and Medicaid for more than $50 million over the last two years.

Investigators say the Brooklyn scheme worked like this: Patients willing to go along with the scam were paid $40 per visit for three appointments per week, and were often diagnosed with vertigo or other ailments that would limit their mobility. Ambulettes provided by Medicare and Medicaid were transporting these patients back and forth for fraudulent appointments.

The clinic would then collect from Medicare or Medicaid for the ambulette rides, and the supposed services provided at the phony appointments. Taxpayers were billed millions for unnecessary treatment or treatment never provided.

Seven of the nine Brooklyn suspects are in custody. ABC producers on the scene saw the some of the suspects being read their Miranda rights in Russian.

This morning in Miami, federal agents arrested more than 30 Medicare fraud suspects. The indictment charges the defendants submitted tens of thousands of dollars in bogus claims for elderly and disabled patients.