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BH FRAUD UPDATE: Patient broker of psychiatric hospital sentenced for role in $67 million healthcare fraud scheme

November 18, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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A woman who "brokered patients" to a South Florida psychiatric hospital was sentenced earlier this month to serve 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for her participation in a $67 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Gloria Himmons, 54, of Union Springs, Ala., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in the Southern District of Florida. In March 2013, Himmons pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to receive healthcare kickbacks and one count of receiving a healthcare kickback. In addition to her prison term, Himmons was ordered to pay $14 million in restitution, joint and severally with her co-defendants.           

According to court documents, Himmons was a patient broker at Hollywood Pavilion LLC (HP), a state-licensed psychiatric hospital in South Florida that purported to offer both inpatient and outpatient mental health services. Himmons would provide Medicare beneficiaries to HP in exchange for bribes and kickbacks, and she allegedly knew that the patients she provided to HP were not appropriate for inpatient psychiatric hospitalization or for outpatient mental health treatment. The patients she provided to HP reportedly included those who were not severely mentally ill, as well as substance abusers looking for rehabilitation programs. The patients did not have legitimate referrals from hospitals or doctors who had been treating acute-phase, severe mental illness. 

From at least 2005 through September 2012, in exchange for bribes and kickbacks, Himmons knowingly and willfully provided to HP Medicare beneficiaries who did not need inpatient or outpatient psychiatric treatment. As a result of Himmons’s participation in this scheme, HP was improperly paid more than $7 million by Medicare. From at least 2003 through at least August 2012, HP billed Medicare approximately $67 million for services that were not properly rendered, for patients that did not qualify for the services being billed, and for claims for patients who were procured through bribes and kickbacks. Medicare reimbursed HP on approximately $40 million of those claims.

On Sept. 10, 2013, co-defendants Karen Kallen-Zury, Daisy Miller and Christian Coloma were sentenced on their June 2013 jury convictions. Kallen-Zury, the chief executive officer of HP, and Miller and Coloma were convicted on all counts at trial and sentenced to 300 months, 180 months and 144 months, respectively. Kallen-Zury and Miller were ordered to pay, jointly and severally with their co-defendants, nearly $40 million in restitution. Coloma was ordered to pay, jointly and severally, more than $20 million in restitution.
          
This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Miami.

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