CHICAGO – A Filipino-American owner of a home healthcare business was sentenced last Aug. 30 by United States District Court Judge Frederick J. Kapala in Rockford, Illinois to 20 months in federal prison for healthcare fraud and violation of the anti-kickback statue, Assistant US Attorney Scott A. Verseman reported.
Sentenced was Filipino-American Merigrace Orillo, 45, who co-owned and operated Chalice Home Healthcare Service Inc. together with her late husband Virgilio Orillo. Chalice had offices in Chicago, Freeport and Morris, Illinois.
Last April, Orillo pleaded guilty to charges of healthcare fraud and kickback-statue violations.
She admitted having defrauded together with her husband the Medicare program of more than $700,000.[box type=”default” size=”large”] Accused admitted having paid kickbacks for patient referrals [/box]She pleaded guilty to Count One of healthcare fraud and Count Two, which charged her with aiding and abetting another in paying kickbacks for patient referrals under the federal healthcare program.
A plea agreement stated that Chalice nurses, nursing aides, physical therapists and occupational therapists provided services to patients in their homes. Chalice was paid for the services through the Medicare program.
Orillo admitted that from January 2007 to April 2010, she and her late husband falsified documents in order to pad the payments Chalice received from Medicare.
The falsifications made Chalice’s patients appeared to be sicker than they actually were and in need of more care than they actually required.
Orillo also admitted that she knowingly assisted her husband in paying kickbacks to a Chicago doctor. The kickbacks were paid in consideration for the doctor’s referral of patients to Chalice for home healthcare services.
Orillo likewise admitted that she withdrew cash from Chalice’s bank account and gave the cash to her husband to be used to pay the kickbacks.
At the sentencing hearing, the court noted that Orillo’s fraudulent scheme caused Medicare to lose more than $700,000.
The indictment, filed on February 15, 2011, charged Orillo and her husband Virgilio with healthcare fraud. The charges against Virgilio were dropped after he died on August 30, 2011.
Judge Kapala ordered Orillo to pay $744,481 in restitution to the Medicare trust fund. She is not eligible for parole.
The investigation was conducted by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, whose operations expanded to the Northern District of Illinois in 2011. The strike force is a part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative of the justice department and HHS to prevent fraud and enforce anti-fraud law.
Those involved in the prosecution of the case were by Gary S. Shapiro, acting United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; William C. Monroe, acting special agent in charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; and Lamont Pugh III, special agent in charge of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in Chicago.
The government was represented by Assistant US Attorney Scott A. Verseman.
Meanwhile, three Filipino-American nurses who were indicted last Aug. 9 pleaded not guilty to charges of taking part in a conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks in exchange for the referral of Medicare patients for home healthcare services that cost the Medicare $5 million in losses.
Assistant US Attorney Randall Samborn, public information officer of the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern Illinois District, said those who pleaded not guilty to the charges were Marilyn Maravilla and Junjee L. Arroyo, both part owners of Goodwill Home Healthcare Inc.; Ferdinand Echavia, a licensed nurse, who referred patients to Goodwill; and Jean Holloway and Rakeshkumar Shah, who both marketed Goodwill’s services to Medicare patients.
The six defendants were alleged to have conspired in paying and receiving approximately $400,000 in kickbacks to themselves, nurses, marketers and others for referral and retention of Medicare patients that enabled Goodwill to bill Medicare approximately $5 million.