When the coronavirus pandemic began in March of 2020, it is very likely that the vast majority of people had no clue it would last this long. The phrase “when COVID is over” became a popular way of discuss the activities they would engage in when things returned to normal. As much as we would all like to continue to live as we did pre-pandemic, the threat of virus spread remains. What is normal today is something we’ve never experienced before.
Sadly, as we trudge through this ongoing tough time, our society has endured yet another crisis as a result of the virus. People are torn over what to do about stopping the spread. There is dissension over the need to wear masks, social distancing and getting the COVID-19 vaccine. As if all of these issues weren’t enough, there are members of the medical community who have used the pandemic for profit. This, of course, has only made things harder for people.
Florida man pleads guilty to $6.9 million COVID-19 testing fraud scheme.
As reported by the United States Department of Justice last week, 45 year-old, Christopher Licata has pleaded guilty to a $6.9 million conspiracy involving COVID-19 testing. The Delray Beach, Florida man defrauded Medicare by paying kickbacks and bribes to obtain doctors’ orders. The orders were for medically unnecessary lab tests that 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,” the DoJ details.
Licata is the owner of Boca Toxicology LLC.
Doing business as Lab Dynamics, the laboratory was used by Licata as a location to bribe patient brokers. They would refer Medicare beneficiaries and doctors’ orders authorizing medically unnecessary genetic testing to the lab. Licata and the patient brokers also entered into sham agreements to disguise the true purpose of these payments.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Licata played on patients’ fears of the virus. He decided to bundle COVID-19 tests with more expensive, medically unnecessary testing. They included respiratory pathogen panel testing as well as genetic testing for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Licata submitted over $6.9 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.
“Licata pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud,” reports the DoJ, “He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24 and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”
Are you an attorney who is currently working a health care fraud case?
The clinical experts at Allegiant Experts can help you! Everything we do focuses on inclusive, comprehensive, cost-effective healthcare. We coordinate and support courageous whistleblowers who shine lights on fraud, waste and abuse. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 407-217-5831. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.