Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 -- The U.S. Department of Justice's Criminal Division issued the following news release:
A Texas federal judge convicted the owner of two Texas-based durable medical equipment companies today on multiple health care fraud charges following a five-day bench trial, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department?s Criminal Division. Hugh Marion Willet, 69, of Fort Worth, Texas, was found guilty by U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle in the Northern District of Texas on all seven counts of the June 2012 second superseding indictment: one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and six counts of health care fraud stemming from a durable medical equipment (DME) fraud scheme. Willett?s wife, Jean Willett, previously pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced in September 2012 to serve 50 months in prison. The evidence at trial showed that between 2006 and 2010, the Willets co-owned and operated JS&H Orthopedic Supply LLC and Texas Orthotic and Prosthetic Systems Inc., which claimed to provide orthotics and other DME to beneficiaries of Medicare and private insurance benefit programs including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and CIGNA. Evidence presented in court proved that both of these companies intentionally submitted claims to Medicare and other insurers for products that were materially different from and more expensive than what was actually provided, and that Hugh Marion Willett was a knowing and willing participant in the fraud. At sentencing, currently scheduled for April 18, 2013, Hugh Marion Willett faces a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. The case is being prosecuted by Fraud Section Trial Attorney Ben O?Neil and Deputy Chief Sam Sheldon of the Justice Department?s Criminal Division. The case was investigated by the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division?s Fraud Section. Since their inception in March 2007, strike force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,480 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
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