Additional Arrests, Charges, and Execution of Search Warrants Conducted in Miami; Baton Rouge, LA.; Brooklyn, NY; Detroit; and Houston, TX
Washington, DC, August 13, 2010 — It was on July 16, 2010 the United States Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of New York divulged ninety-four people had been charged for their alleged participation in schemes to collectively submit more than $251 million in false claims to the Medicare program in the continuing operation of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in Miami, Baton Rouge, Brooklyn, Detroit, and Houston. Making the announcement was Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, and Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of HHS. The operation announced was the largest federal health care fraud takedown since Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations began in 2007.
The joint DOJ-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a multi-agency team of federal, state, and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud through the use of Medicare data analysis techniques and an increased focus on community policing. More than 360 law enforcement agents from the FBI, HHS-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and other state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the operation conducted on July 16, 2010.
Charges were unsealed that day against 94 individuals who are accused of various Medicare fraud-related offenses, including conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, criminal false claims, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, and money laundering. The charges are based on a variety of fraud schemes, including physical therapy and occupational therapy schemes, home health care schemes, HIV infusion fraud schemes, and durable medical equipment (DME) schemes. Thirty-six defendants charged in those schemes had been arrested in Miami, New York, Baton Rouge, and Detroit, with additional arrests expected.
According to the court documents, the defendants charged participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare for treatments that were medically unnecessary and oftentimes, never provided. In many cases, indictments and complaints allege that beneficiaries accepted cash kickbacks in return for allowing providers to submit forms saying they had received the treatments that, in reality, were unnecessary or never provided. Collectively, the doctors, health care company owners, executives, and others charged in the indictments and complaints were accused of conspiring to submit more than $251 million in false claims to the Medicare program.
O2 Home Services. Marcella Eraifej, Christina Marji, and Raid Rabadi were charged for their involvement in a $3.5 million scheme to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid programs by submitting fraudulent claims for DME. Rabadi is the owner and Chairman of the oxygen equipment services company, and Eraifej and Marji served as patient recruiters – some of whom targeted local churches to find Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries whose personal information the defendants would use for their fraudulent billings. A search of 02 was executed at the time of the defendants’ arrests.
O2 Home Services was operated by Raid Rabadi out of Long Island but the greatest proportion of allegedly false prescriptions were disbursed among patients in Yonkers.
Marcella Eraifej is the wife of Issa Eraifej, a council member of the Yonkers-based Arab-American Council, and a former candidate for the Yonkers City Council to represent the 2nd District.
While an indictment is merely an allegation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty there is so much conjecture and speculation behind closed doors in Yonkers as to who will next be indicted in Yonkers over the alleged fraud, that nerves are truly frayed.
More as acid-tongued bloggers continue their investigation on these concerns, among others.
To learn more about the HEAT team, go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov