On August 11, 2017, the Department of Justice announced that the owner and director of nursing for a Houston home health agency had been sentenced to 75 years in prison for her participation in a $13 million Medicare fraud scheme. 53-year-old Marie Neba of Sugarland, Texas was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon.
In November of 2016, Neba was convicted on multiple charges at the conclusion of a two-week jury trial. Neba was convicted on the following charges.
- One count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud
- Three counts of health care fraud
- One count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks
- One count of payment and receipt of health care kickbacks
- One count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments
- One count of making health care false statements
During the course of the trial, evidence submitted concluded that from February 2006 to June 2015 Neba and others collaborated to defraud Medicare by submitting more than $10 million in false and fraudulent claims for home health services to Medicare. The fraudulent claims were submitted by Fiango Home Healthcare Inc., which is owned and operated by Neba and her husband, Ebong Tilong also 53 from Sugarland.
The evidence concluded that the money paid by Medicare was used by Neba to pay illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters for sending Medicare beneficiaries to her company. Neba allow distributed illegal kickbacks to Medicare recipients for allowing Fiango to use their information to bill Medicare for home health services that were not provided nor medically necessary.
Evidence showed that Neba created false medical records to make it appear that the Medicare recipients qualified for and received home health services. Evidence also detailed how Neba attempted to convince a co-defendant to commit perjury in the federal court. Court evidence showed that Neba had received more than $13 million from Medicare for services that were not medically needed or provided from February 2006 to June 2015.
Four other participants have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme.
- Nirmal Mazumdar M.D. and former medical director of Fiango
- Daisy Carter – Patient recruiter
- Connie Ray Island – Patient recruiter
Island was sentenced to 33 months in prison on August the 11th. Carter and Mazumdar are currently awaiting sentencing. Neba’s husband, Ebong Tilong, pleaded guilty to multiple counts. Tilong will be sentenced on October 13 of this year.