Los Angeles, California - An Inland Empire woman who ran a home health agency that paid more than $1.25 million in illegal kickbacks for referrals of Medicare patients has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
Elaine C. Lat, 47, of Fontana, was sentenced on Monday by United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez. In addition to the prison term, Judge Gutierrez ordered Lat to pay $41,930 in restitution to Medicare.
Lat pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy and four counts of paying illegal kickbacks.
Lat was the chief operating officer of Star Home Health Resources, Inc., a La Verne-based home health agency that received more than $8.5 million from Medicare after Star submitted bills for services provided to patients who were referred through the illegal kickback scheme.
According to court documents, from May 2008 through May 2016, Lat conspired with others to pay illegal kickbacks to physicians and individuals in exchange for referrals of Medicare beneficiaries to Star for home health services. Lat and her co-conspirators paid kickbacks totaling at least $1,257,487 to physicians and other referral sources, including marketers. Lat paid the kickbacks with cash she withdrew from Star’s bank accounts or with checks drawn from the accounts, directly to the physicians and marketers.
Five other defendants have been charged in relation to the Star kickback scheme. Four of those defendants were named in the same indictment as Elaine Lat. Elaine Lat’s parents – Errol Lat, 73, and Thelma Lat, 72, both of Alta Loma – also pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to pay illegal kickbacks and four counts of paying illegal kickbacks. They are scheduled to be sentenced on March 26, 2018.
Corinne Chavez, 34, a resident of Rosamond in Kern County, who was a marketer for Star, pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks. Chavez is scheduled to be sentenced on June 11, 2018.
Dr. Kain Kumar, 54, of Malibu, California, one of the physicians who allegedly received kickbacks from Star, has pleaded not guilty to 19 charges contained in a second superseding indictment that accuses him of participating in the Star kickback conspiracy, as well as engaging in health care fraud and illegally prescribing controlled substances. According to the indictment in this case, Medicare paid $4,398,599 to Star after the illegal referrals by Kumar.
Kumar – who operated medical clinics in Palmdale, Rosamond and Ridgecrest – is scheduled to go on trial before Judge Gutierrez on May 8, 2018.
Another doctor who allegedly received kickbacks from Star is charged in a separate case. Dr. Kanagasabai Kanakeswaran, 65, of Lancaster, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial on January 30, also before Judge Gutierrez.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The case against Lat and the other charged defendants was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alexander F. Porter of the Major Frauds Section and Trial Attorney Claire Yan of the Fraud Section in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.