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Nurse pleads guilty to Medicare fraud

Sept. 1, 2011 at 12:34 AM

MIAMI, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- A Miami-area nurse pleaded guilty Wednesday to billing Medicare $118,000 for home health services that were unneeded or never provided.

Farah Maria Perez, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard.

Perez, who worked for Florida Home Health Care Providers Inc., and co-conspirators at the company billed Medicare for costly physical therapy and home health care services that were medically unnecessary or never provided from about January 2006 until about March 2009, plea documents indicate.

A U.S. Justice Department news release said Perez recruited Medicare beneficiaries who allowed Florida Home Health to bill Medicare for the services. In exchange, the release said, she solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from the owners and operators of Florida Home Health.

Court documents indicate Perez and co-defendants falsified patient files so it appeared they qualified for home health care and therapy services from Florida Home Health. Perez, the release said, admitted she knew the beneficiaries didn't qualify or didn't receive the services.

She and other nurse co-defendants listed symptoms including tremors, impaired vision, weak grip and inability to walk without assistance when the patients didn't have the symptoms, the Justice Department said.

Perez is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 14.

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