Sandra Thurman Patino, 46, had a pretty good deal going with a Medicare scam involving motorized wheelchairs, but now she's headed to federal prison for four years.
Plus she's giving up the $1.1 million she had in the bank, and a Cadillac, to the feds.
Patino was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes for her part in the con, in which she and two others got a doctor to prescribe motorized wheelchairs to people who didn't really need them. Not only that, but Patino equipment that was far cheaper than what she billed the feds for.
We can only hope she didn't provide the dreaded "four-volt" model:
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Others who took part in the scheme have already been sentenced and are serving their terms. Says the U.S. Attorney's office:
Patino, Katrice Oliver, and Anthony Thurman, both 29, were involved in operating two Houston durable medical equipment companies, Thurman Family Medical Services and Seniors Comfort & Caring Medical Services. Between 2002 through 2003, they fraudulently billed Medicare for durable medical equipment, primarily for motorized wheelchairs and related accessories, but delivered less expensive scooters. In all, the two companies billed Medicare approximately $3.9 million and were paid approximately $2.6 million. More than 99 percent of the two companies' claims involved motorized wheelchairs and related accessories.
Most of the fraudulent claims billed upon by the two companies involved prescriptions sold to Patino by Dr. Lewis Gottlieb. Patino sold wheelchair prescriptions to other durable medical equipment companies, besides the two she helped run. Gottlieb has pleaded guilty to receiving kickbacks for signing prescriptions for patients who did not meet the medical necessity requirements to receive motorized wheelchair, and is currently serving a lengthy prison term.