Clinic owner, accountant plead guilty: $50M in unnecessary, fake Medicare home health claims

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    NEW ORLEANS — The head of a New Orleans-based medical clinic and her accountant have pleaded guilty in a $50 million Medicare fraud scheme, federal and state authorities say.

    Clinic owner Paige Okpalobi, 58, of Slidell and Christopher White, 48, of Destrehan pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to falsify records in a federal investigation.

    They're scheduled for sentencing July 1 before Chief U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance, according to a statement from the U.S. Justice Department, other federal agencies and Louisiana's attorney general.

    Eight people accused in the scheme have now pleaded guilty, with five more awaiting trial in May, according to the news release.

    Two of those who pleaded guilty were doctors at Okpalobi's clinic, which employed doctors to certify that people on Medicare were qualified for home health care. Her plea agreement admits using false certifications to bill Medicare through home health care companies she and another conspirator owned.

    White's plea admits coordinating payment of patient recruiters who illegally sold Medicare beneficiary information to Okpalobi and other conspirators — information they used to bill Medicare for work that was unnecessary or not done at all, according to the statement.

    Both said that after a grand jury subpoenaed them, they faked tax and employment records to hide kickbacks and mislead the grand jury.

    Okpalobi admitted that between 2007 and 2014, she caused the submission of roughly $49.9 million in claims to Medicare for home health services that were not medically necessary or not provided.

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