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12 charged with bilking Medicare of $95 million

By Jesse Solomon, CNN
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Wed November 2, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Suspects were charged with health care fraud, money laundering
  • The scheme involved more than $95 million in false Medicare claims
  • Task force has uncovered $2.9 billion in false Medicare filings since 2007

(CNN) -- Federal authorities have charged 12 people in connection with billing schemes that involved more than $95 million in fraudulent Medicare claims, the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday.

The suspects, including four doctors, were charged with health care fraud and money laundering after allegedly attempted to bill Medicare for "services that were medically unnecessary and never provided," the statement said.

Eleven of the suspects were arrested or surrendered in New York. All 11 have pleaded not guilty.

The last suspect is expected to surrender soon, U.S. Attorney spokesman Robert Nardoza said in the statement.

"What all these criminal schemes have in common is the exploitation of Medicare," said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk. "A program to help seniors manage the costs of health care was here abused to line the pockets of unscrupulous doctors and others."

Medicare beneficiaries were allegedly provided with massages, facials, dance lessons and other treatment authorities consider unnecessary in exchange for their claims to bill the government health care program, the statement said.

The investigation was carried out by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint initiative between the Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Launched in March 2007, it has charged 1,140 defendants with falsely billing Medicare for approximately $2.9 billion, the Justice Department said.

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