On Tuesday, it was announced that the owner of a north suburban home health care company had been sentenced to prison for paying illegal kickbacks for patient referrals. Norma De La Cruz was the owner of the Glenview-based TLC Healthcare Services of Illinois Inc. The defendant paid recruiters $500 to $600 for each Medicare patient referred to her company. TLC billed Medicare for home health services, which were supposedly provided to patients.
De la Cruz tried to hide the payments by using sham contracts that showed the recruiters had provided “marketing” services. From 2012 to 2014, TLC fraudulently caused Medicare to pay out at least $390,000. 81-year-old Norma De la Cruz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to offer and pay unlawful kickbacks last year.
De la Cruz was also a registered nurse. She controlled bank accounts in TLC’s name, as well as a personal account. Both accounts were used to pay bribes and kickbacks. The defendant admitted that she sought recruiters who would refer patients to TLC in exchange for a fee per patient. One recruiter was paid at least $65,000 in exchange for his patient referrals.
Norma De La Cruz has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Additional details have been made available here.