Laboratories and the use of patient brokers/recruiters have and continue to be scrutinized by the government. There are no indications that the government’s enforcement efforts will subside. In April 2021, Chilivis Grubman attorneys discussed a patient recruiter receiving a 10-year prison sentence for his role in a healthcare fraud scheme involving labs. And there is no shortage of government press releases reporting guilty pleas and civil settlements by lab owners.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and testing demands soar, so does non-compliance and fraud. On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a Florida man plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud for his role in a Medicare fraud scheme valued at $6.9 million.
According to the government, Christopher Licata, owner of Boca Toxicology LLC, admitted to bribing patient brokers. In exchange for the bribes, the patient brokers would refer Medicare beneficiaries and doctors’ orders to Mr. Licata’s lab. The government notes that the doctors’ orders authorized medically unnecessary genetic testing. The government also accused Mr. Licata of exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic and patient fears. He allegedly bundled COVID-19 tests with other tests that were more expensive and not medically necessary. For example, Mr. Licata’s lab would bundle COVID-19 testing with respiratory pathogen panel testing or sometimes with genetic testing for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other unnecessary testing. As part of the scheme, Mr. Licata submitted over $6.9 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, according to the government.
Mr. Licata pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24, 2022, according to the press release. Subject to consideration of the federal sentencing guidelines and other factors, Mr. Licata faces up to 10 years in prison.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent companies and individuals in connection with government investigations, both criminal and civil, and in False Claims Act litigation. If you have any questions related to such matters, please contact us today.