Last weekend, the city of Chicago, Illinois hosted the NBA All-Star Weekend. The festivities included one of the most exciting slam dunk contests in the event’s history, as well as an exhilarating All-Star Game which paid tribute to basketball legend, Kobe Bryant. The entire city of Chicago was abuzz all weekend long. However, there is one Chicagoan who likely didn’t enjoy any of the action.
Angelita Newton was found guilty of health care fraud.
On February 14th, 42 year-old, Angelita Newton was found guilty for her role in a scheme to defraud Medicare of no less than $7 million. As reported by the United States Department of Justice, the Chicago native was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, following a four-day trial. She is scheduled for sentencing on October 13, 2020.
The evidence presented at the trial showed that between 2011 and 2017, Newton worked at a Chicago-based home health company called Care Specialists. She served as a personal assistant to its owners, 46 year-old Ferdinand Echavia and 44 year-old Ma Luisa Echavia. In her role, Newton conspired with her employers to submit claims to Medicare for unnecessary home health services for unqualified patients.
Newton also submitted claims for visits that did not happen as they were billed.
To defraud Medicare, Newton created and completed bogus visit notes in addition to other fraudulent documents. They each purported to reflect nursing services that were rendered by Ferdinand Echavia. In reality, he was not actually providing any the services.
According to the DoJ report, Newton was well aware that Ferdinand Echavia was making illegal cash payments to patients. In total, the scheme bilked Medicare out of $7 million. The report also notes that there were three other defendants charged in connection with the fraudulent actions that took place at Care Specialists.
The remaining parties involved in the scheme all pleaded guilty.
Ferdinand Echavia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud on January 28th of this year. The following day, Ma Luisa Echavia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. Both of them are awaiting sentencing. In addition, 31 year-old, Reginald Onate also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He worked as a nurse at Care Specialists.
“This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG,” the DoJ details, “The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion.”
Are you an attorney who is currently trying a health care fraud case?
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