An accountant who participated in and attempted to cover up a $50 million New Orleans-area Medicare fraud scheme was sentenced today to 48 months in prison for his involvement in the scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Regional Office and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit made the announcement.
Christopher White, 50, of Destrehan, Louisiana, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance of the Eastern District of Louisiana, who also ordered White to pay $2,272,241.96 in restitution.
According to admissions made in connection with his plea agreement, White was an accountant for multiple companies in a home health care fraud scheme carried out in and around New Orleans over the course of more than 10 years. Among other things, White coordinated the payment of illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters who canvassed the streets of New Orleans to collect Medicare numbers from elderly and disabled Medicare recipients. When a grand jury subpoena was issued to certain companies, he and others fabricated and backdated tax and employment records to conceal the fact that illegal kickbacks were being paid to these recruiters.
According to the plea agreement, from 2007 through 2014, the companies involved in the scheme submitted more than $56 million in claims to Medicare, the vast majority of which were fraudulent. Medicare paid approximately $50.7 million on these claims.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Fraud Section Trial Attorneys William Kanellis and Antonio Pozos prosecuted the case.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $10 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.