3 plead guilty to $5.4M Medicare fraud

March 14, 2012 at 7:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday three Detroit-area clinic owners have pleaded guilty to defrauding Medicare of $5.4 million.

"Karina Hernandez, 28, Marieva Briceno, 46, and Henry Briceno, 58, all of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow in the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud," the Justice Department said in a joint release with the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Hernandez managed operations at the Blessed Medical Clinic, the Alpha & Omega Medical Clinic and the Manuel Medical Clinic clinics, all in Livonia, Mich., plea documents indicate.

Marieva Briceno, Hernandez' mother, contributed funding to open one of the clinics and helper her daughter manage all three, the release said.

The pair admitted hiring recruiters to pay bribes to Medicare beneficiaries, who provide their Medicare numbers and other information, and used that information to bill for medically unnecessary tests and treatments.

Henry Briceno pleaded guilty to incorporating the Manuel Medical Clinic and opening a bank account to conceal the clinic's ownership.

Each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged more than 1,190 people with falsely billing Medicare for more than $3.6 billion since its creation in March 2007, the release said.

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