Lab owner pleads guilty to $6.9 million genetic testing and COVID-19 test fraud | OPA - Market News
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Lab owner pleads guilty to $6.9 million genetic testing and COVID-19 test fraud | OPA

Hudson Woman Pleads Guilty of Crimes Related to Social Security Disability Benefits |  USAO-NH

A Florida man pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of Florida to a $6.9 million conspiracy to defraud Medicare by paying kickbacks and bribes to obtain doctors’ orders for medically unnecessary lab tests that were then billed to Medicare. The defendant took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by pooling COVID-19 testing with other forms of testing that patients did not need, including genetic testing and testing for rare respiratory pathogens.

According to court documents, Christopher Licata, 45, of Delray Beach, admitted that, as the owner of Boca Toxicology LLC (dba Lab Dynamics), he bribed patient brokers who would refer Medicare beneficiaries and doctor’s orders authorizing medically unnecessary genetic testing to Licata’s lab. . Licata and these patient brokers entered into sham deals to disguise the true purpose of these payments. Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, Licata took advantage of patients’ fears of COVID-19 by bundling COVID-19 testing with more expensive, medically unnecessary tests, including panel testing for respiratory pathogens and sometimes genetic testing for cardiovascular and cardiovascular disease. vascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia. In all, Licata caused his lab to submit more than $6.9 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for these medically unnecessary tests.

Licata pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He will be convicted on March 24 and receive a maximum sentence of 10 years. A federal district court judge will determine an eventual sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other legal factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. from the Criminal Division of the Ministry of Justice; Special Agent George L. Piro of the FBI Office in Miami; and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Special Officer Omar PĂ©rez Aybar made the announcement.

The FBI’s Miami Field Office and HHS-OIG are investigating the matter.

Litigation lawyers Jamie de Boer and Dermot Lynch of the Fraud Department of the Criminal Law Department are prosecuting the case.

In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to pool the ministry’s resources in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force is strengthening efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assist agencies charged with managing emergency programs to prevent fraud, including by expanding and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, resources and identifying techniques to detect fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and leveraging information and insights gained from past enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

The Fraud Department heads the Health Care Fraud Prevention Service. Since its inception in March 2007, the Health Care Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike troops in 24 federal districts, has charged more than 4,600 defendants who jointly 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 accountability and reduce the presence of fraudulent providers.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud with COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or using the NCDF web complaint form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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Anna Wintour

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