CRIME: A Lab Owner Pleads Guilty To $6.9 Million Genetic Testing And COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

A Florida man pleaded guilty to a $6.9million scheme to defraud Medicare. He paid kickbacks, bribes and kickbacks to get doctors to order medically unnecessary lab tests which were then billed to Medicare. The defendant exploited the COVID-19 pandemic by bundling COVID-19 testing with other forms of testing that patients did not need, including genetic testing and tests for rare respiratory pathogens.

According to court documents, Christopher Licata 45, from Delray Beach admitted that he was the owner of Boca Toxicology LLC, dba Lab Dynamics, and bribed patient brokers to refer Medicare beneficiaries to Licata’s laboratory. To hide the true purpose, Licata and these patient broker entered into sham contracts. Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, Licata exploited patients’ fears of COVID-19 by bundling COVID-19 tests with more expensive, medically unnecessary testing, including respiratory pathogen panel testing and, at times, genetic testing for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Licata made his laboratory submit false and fraudulent claims for Medicare to cover these unnecessary tests.

Licata pleaded guilty one count of conspiring in health care fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24 and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. After considering all relevant U.S. factors, a federal district court judge will decide the sentence. The Sentencencing Guidelines and other statutory elements.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent In Charge George L. Piro of FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent In Charge Omar Perez Aybar of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS–OIG) made the announcement.

The FBI’s Miami Field Office is investigating the case. HHS-OIG is also involved in the investigation.

Trial The case is being prosecuted by Jamie de Boer (Criminal Division Fraud Section) and Dermot Lynch (HHS-OIG).

In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the department in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force supports efforts to prosecute and investigate the most culpable international and domestic criminal actors. It also assists agencies charged with administering relief programs to stop fraud. This includes, among other things, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanism, identifying resources, techniques to uncover fraudulent actors, and sharing information and insights from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

The Health Care Fraud Strike Force is led by the Fraud Section. The Health Care Fraud Strike Force was established in March 2007, and has since been able to charge more than 4 ,600 accuseds. They have collectively billed approximately $23 trillion for federal health care programs as well as private insurers. The HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are also taking steps to reduce fraud and increase accountability.

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

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