Baton Rouge Lab Owner and Florida Woman Charged with Plan to Pay and Receive Health Care Bribes in National Enforcement Action | USAO-MDLA

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force (“MFSF”) is part of a joint initiative between the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of Health and Human Services and state Medicaid fraud control units to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid fraud through enhanced interagency cooperation. Its aim is to focus on the worst fraud offenders, in more intensive regions, using data analysis techniques to identify abnormal billing levels in fraud “hot spots”. healthcare, that is, cities with unusually high billing levels and other frauds. The US Department of Justice currently maintains 15 strike force operations in 24 federal districts and has indicted more than 4,600 defendants who have collectively billed federal health care programs and private insurers for approximately $ 23 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase liability and reduce the presence of fraudulent providers.

As part of the recent National Enforcement Action, Acting United States Prosecutor Ellison C. Travis announced new charges against two people for healthcare-related crimes in Baton Rouge. On September 9, 2021, a federal grand jury released an indictment of seven counts accusing Terry Steven Wilks, Jr., 39, of Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, and Leslie Amanda McHugh, 36, of Riverview, Florida, conspiracy to fraud in the United States and pay and receive bribes, offer and pay bribes, and solicit and receive bribes .

According to the indictment, Wilks was the owner of Acadian Diagnostic Laboratories, LLC, a Baton Rouge-based clinical laboratory that provided diagnostic testing services, including urine drug tests. Acadian was registered as a health insurance provider and TRICARE. McHugh was once a registered nurse in the state of Florida. The indictment alleges that in 2015 the Florida Board of Nursing revoked McHugh’s nursing license and in 2016 Medicare excluded her from participation in all federal health care programs. According to the indictment, despite his exclusion and alleged departure from Acadian, Wilks continued to pay McHugh to return doctors’ prescriptions and samples to Acadian for urine drug testing in exchange for bribes. These payments were reportedly made in cash and channeled through a company set up by Wilks. The indictment alleges that from August 2017 to April 2018, Wilks and McHugh caused Acadian to submit approximately $ 549,580 in claims to Medicare and $ 17,612 in claims to TRICARE for laboratory testing services that were referred by McHugh in exchange for bribes.

Acting U.S. Attorney Ellison Travis said, “My office will continue to work tirelessly with our remarkable federal, state and local partners to identify and bring justice to those who commit healthcare-related crimes. This withdrawal was a team effort, and I salute the excellent work carried out by our prosecutors and the men and women of the agencies involved.

“Today’s indictment sends a clear message to individuals like Terry Wilks and Leslie McHugh who engage in bribery schemes that defraud the health care programs they will be. held accountable. Mr. Wilks and Ms. McHugh took advantage of a system put in place to help patients get much-needed government help and instead took advantage of it, ” said FBI Special Agent in New Orleans, Douglas A. Williams, Jr. “We would like to thank our state and federal partners with the Medicare Fraud Strike Force for their strong partnership and their relentless pursuit of justice. “

Miranda L. Bennett, special agent in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, Dallas area, said, “Today’s indictment is another example of our commitment to vigorously defend the Medicare Trust Fund. Paying and receiving bribes for referrals undermines federal health care programs. We will continue to prosecute those who carry out fraudulent bribery schemes to protect the beneficiaries of these programs. “

“I commend my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and our partners in the United States Attorney’s Office for their efforts to end criminal activity, especially when it is perpetrated by people who are supposed to care for the vulnerable of our state, ”said Attorney General Jeff Landry. .

This case is being investigated by the HHS-OIG, the FBI, and the Defense Criminal Investigation Service and has been brought under the MFSF, overseen by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the Office of the United States Attorney for the Central District of Louisiana. The case is being pursued by Assistant United States Attorney Kristen L. Craig and Department of Justice Attorney Justin M. Woodard.

NOTE: An indictment is a charge laid by a grand jury. The accused is presumed innocent until convicted at trial or by a guilty plea.

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