Two doctors, nurse, manager convicted in $50 million Medicare fraud

Two doctors, nurse, manager convicted in $50 million Medicare fraud

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Four people were convicted for their roles in a $50 million Medicare fraud in the New Orleans area.

According to the Department of Justice, Barbara Smith M.D of Metairie., Roy Berkowitz M.D. of Slidell, Beverly Breaux of New Orleans and Joe Ann Murthil of New Orleans were all convicted after a five-day jury trial.

Evidence showed that these defendants falsely claimed that they were treating thousands of home-bound medicare recipients, most of whom were not home-bound and never received treatment.

According to the Department of Justice, Smith and Berkotwitz claimed thousands of Medicare recipients were home-bound and required nursing and therapy services provided in their homes. Breaux, a registered nurse, falsely certified that these patients were home bound and falsely claimed to have treated patients she never saw. Murthil, an office manager and biller at a home health company, assisted with the payment of illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters. She also submitted false claims to Medicare stating that patients were home bound when some of the patients held jobs and had not received services. Some of these falsely claimed patients didn't even want medical services.

From 2007-14, the Department of Justice says this scheme brought in over $56 million in mostly fraudulent Medicare claims. Medicare paid about $50.7 million of those claims.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 26. The investigation lead to 13 total convictions because of this scheme. The other nine people involved previously plead guilty.

Since it's inception, the DOJ says the Medicare Fraud Strike Force charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.

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