Clinic malpracticeThe owner of a medical clinic was fined more than $1 million and sentenced to 15 months in prison for running an operation that defrauded Medicare, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.

Maria Haber, 46, who owned CompleteHealth LLC, a Detroit area medical clinic, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release upon completing her prison term and was ordered to pay $ 1,004,343 in restitution.Haber incorporated CompleteHealth on September 20, 2007, purportedly to provide primary care services in Livonia, Mich., and enrolled her limited liability clinic in the Medicare program, which Haber and her co-conspirators, including her then-husband Emilio Haber, billed for unnecessary tests and services.

According to court documents, Haber admitted enlisting patients for CompleteHealth by offering kickbacks to recruiters and directly to Medicare beneficiaries. Haber and her co-conspirators typically paid patient recruiters from $100 to $150 per patient. Of that amount, $50 to $75 went to so-called patients in exchange for visiting CompleteHealth and agreeing to medically unnecessary tests.

Haber's co-conspirators also told the patient recruiters to instruct "patients" to fake certain symptoms to justify the unnecessary tests. The kickbacks Haber paid to the recruiters and patients were dependent on the Medicare beneficiaries identifying the symptoms necessary to justify the tests reflected in their medical records.

When CompleteHealth merged with Ritecare LLC in June 2008, another local clinic, the Medicare fraud continued unabated.

Haber pleaded guilty on October 27, 2010, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and she was one of 10 individuals charged in connection with the fraudulent diagnostic testing scheme at CompleteHealth and Ritecare.

Co-defendants Emilio Haber, Genna Yates, Alejandro Haber, Grant Johnson, Darrell Nichols, Elizabeth Egan, Hans Lobato, Emma King and Melvin Young had previously pleaded guilty to health care fraud conspiracy for their roles in the operation.

Since its creation in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine districts have obtained indictments of more than 1,000 defendants who fraudulently billed Medicare for more than $2.3 billion.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

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