Federal crackdown on health care fraud nets several defendants in Florida

Federal crackdown on health care fraud nets several defendants in Florida

Federal crackdown on health care fraud nets several defendants in Florida

Several Florida residents are among 193 people recently charged by the U.S. Department of Justice in a nationwide crackdown on fraud targeting health care for the elderly and disabled.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday announced charges against doctors, nurses and others across the United States accused of a variety of scams, including a $900 million scheme in Arizona targeting dying patients.

Among those charged in Florida are Eva LeBeau, 65, of Clearwater, and Lori Lebrecht, 60, of Largo. They are charged with conspiracy to defraud through an illegal kickback scheme involving the prestigious Senior Home Health Care Company of Pinellas County. LeBeau was the owner of the company and Lebrecht was the director of nursing.

Prosecutors said they submitted false and fraudulent claims totaling more than $2 million for home health services.

Prosecutors also charged Eric Brewer, a 28-year-old intensive care nurse from Lakeland. Brewer is accused of stealing fentanyl infusion bags and, in some cases, even skimming fentanyl from patients’ IV bags at Tampa hospitals.

In a separate case, Lisa Williams, 56, of Lithia, was charged with six counts of tampering with a consumer product and six counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud in connection with her illegal acquisition and handling of fentanyl infusion bags at a hospital.

Ma Gracia Cadet, 53, of Kissimmee, and Marques Elijah Green, 29, of Windermere. They were charged and entered into plea agreements last week in separate cases of conspiracy to commit health care fraud worth millions of dollars.

Prosecutors allege they submitted false claims for medical equipment and that Cadet’s conspiracy involved at least $9.3 million in Medicare funds and Green’s more than $3.4 million.

Erin Kim, a 54-year-old nurse practitioner from Orlando, is accused of conspiring with others at Done, a California-based digital health care company, to illegally supply Adderall to patients without a medical need to do so. Prosecutors said Kim prescribed 1.5 million pills and received $800,000.

Robert Desselle, 46, of Sarasota, was charged with conspiracy to defraud in connection with an alleged scheme to pay illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries for cancer genetic testing that was not medically necessary.

Lawrence Waldman, 57, of Miami, who worked for ASAP Labs as a sales representative, is charged with conspiracy to defraud in connection with a scheme to submit false claims to Medicare. Prosecutors allege Waldman used his position to obtain genetic testing and respiratory virus swab samples from Medicare beneficiaries.

Waldman and his co-conspirators used the test swabs, along with application forms containing forged and unauthorized signatures of physicians, to obtain approximately $380,000 in illegal kickbacks, according to authorities.

In total, 193 people were charged in a series of separate cases filed over about two weeks in the nationwide crackdown on health care fraud.

Authorities seized more than $230 million in cash, luxury cars and other assets.

The Department of Justice periodically conducts these broad initiatives to combat health care fraud with the goal of helping deter other would-be wrongdoers.

Information from WGCU in Fort Myers and the Associated Press was used in this report.