Corporate Compliance

Three defendants plead guilty to fraud scheme involving hurricane damaged wheelchairs

Compliance Monitor, September 29, 2010

On September 23, three individuals pleaded guilty in connection with a Medicare fraud scheme operated out of a Houston-area durable medical equipment (DME) company, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.

In their pleas, Johnnie Lee Andrews, 58, and Monica Renee Perry, 42, admitted that they received kickbacks to refer Medicare beneficiaries to the DME company, Luant & Odera Inc. Luant & Odera submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary DME, including power wheelchairs, wheelchair accessories, and motorized scooters.  

Melvin Jean Barnes, 60, admitted that he delivered the medically unnecessary DME in exchange for kickbacks.

According to the DOJ, Medicare relaxed its operating procedures following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike. DME providers that replaced DME in good faith could receive reimbursement if they billed the equipment to Medicare with the CR modifier. Luant & Odera took advantage of Medicare’s relaxed operating procedures and billed Medicare for wheelchairs and scooters that were not destroyed in the hurricane or medically necessary. 

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