News And Notes

Detroit PTA Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison

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WASHINGTON -- A Detroit-area registered physical therapist assistant was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison for her role in a nearly $13.8 million Medicare fraud scheme. The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade; Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley III of the FBI's Detroit Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.

Hetal Barot, 30, of Westland, MI, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen in the Eastern District of Michigan. In addition to her prison term, Barot was sentenced to serve two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,336,739 in restitution, jointly and severally with her co-defendants.

Barot pleaded guilty on June 26, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to Barot's plea agreement, beginning in approximately May 2009, Barot, a physical therapist assistant, was paid to falsify medical documentation for Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC, a home health agency owned by her co-conspirators. Barot created evaluations, therapy revisit notes and other medical documentation memorializing purported physical therapy for patients she did not see or treat. According to court documents, she was instructed on how to falsify the medical documentation by a co-conspirator.

Barot also pleaded guilty to signing therapy revisit notes as a physical therapist assistant for patients she did not see or treat, knowing that the documents she falsified and the documents that she signed would be used to support false claims to Medicare for home health services.

Barot was subsequently paid to sign falsified medical documentation and files for First Care Home Health Care LLC, Quantum Home Care Inc. and Moonlite Home Care Inc., which were Detroit-area home health care companies also owned by Barot's co-conspirators that billed Medicare.

From approximately May 2009 through September 2011, Medicare paid approximately $1,336,739 to the four home health care companies for fraudulent physical therapy claims based on falsified files and notes signed by Barot. The four home health companies for which Barot worked were paid in total approximately $13.8 million by Medicare.

Nine of Barot's co-defendants have pleaded guilty, and one has been sentenced. Three co-defendants are fugitives, and six co-defendants await trial.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division's Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion. In addition, HHS's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.


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