Los Angeles, California - The administrator of a Southern California hospice was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in prison for his role in a multimillion dollar hospice fraud scheme.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director in Charge Kristi K. Johnson of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Timothy B. DeFrancesca of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Regional Office made the announcement.
Antonio Olivera, 80, of Norwalk, was also ordered to pay $2,193,914 in restitution. Olivera pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in November 2020. Three co-conspirators have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
As part of his guilty plea, Olivera admitted that from 2011 to 2018, while acting as administrator for Mhiramarc Management LLC (Mhiramarc), a hospice located in Downey, California, Olivera and others paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters for the referral of hospice beneficiaries to Mhiramarc. Further, when clinical staff at Mhiramarc determined beneficiary referrals did not qualify to receive hospice services, Olivera overruled those determinations and nonetheless caused the beneficiaries to be put on hospice service.
Olivera and co-conspirators caused Mhiramarc to submit approximately $28 million in claims to Medicare, which resulted in the company being paid over $17 million. Olivera was personally responsible for $4,769,982 in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, resulting in Medicare paying Mhiramarc $2,984,914 for medically unnecessary hospice services for beneficiaries, many of whom had been recruited through illegal kickbacks.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and HHS-OIG’s Los Angeles Regional Office. Trial Attorneys Justin Givens and Claire Yan of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Health Care Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.