Boston, Massachusetts – A woman from Florida and a woman from Colorado admitted guilty on 20th January 2021 to an information charging them with a multi-million-dollar fraud conspiracy involving Medicare.
Elizabeth Putulin, from Coconut Creek, Florida, age 30, and Jessica Jones, from Louisville, Colorado, age 30, each admitted guilty before the United States District Court Senior Judge George A. O’Toole, Jr. to one conspiracy count to commit health care fraud. Putulin and Jones are scheduled to be sentenced on 19th May 2021.
Putulin, Jones, and their co-conspirator Juan Camilo Perez Buitrago plotted to submit false claims of over 109 million U.S. dollars for durable medical equipment, including the back, shoulder, arm, and knee braces. Peres admitted guilty in October 2020 to health care fraud and offering bribes concerning a government health care insurance policy and is set to be sentenced on 4th March 2021.
Putulin and Jones helped Perez fabricate and submit false claims to Medicare by setting up shell companies in multiple states around the country, including Massachusetts. Perez instructed his workers, including Putulin and Jones, to list his yacht captain, wife, and mother as corporate directors of the shell companies and to use imaginary names when registering the companies as durable medical equipment providers. With Perez’s approval, Putulin and Jones obtained data for Medicare beneficiaries from domestic and foreign call centers that targeted old patients and directed the call centers to contact the Medicare patients with a deal of back, shoulder, arm, knee, and/or ankle braces at a little or no cost. Perez then submitted claims for the Medicare beneficiaries to Medicare without a valid prescription order to prove that the braces were medically needed. Additionally, it is purported that Perez unashamedly submitted false claims for patients, including deceased ones, and repeated the same patient claims for the same durable medical equipment. Perez did not offer any durable medical equipment for claims of over 7.5 million U.S. dollars. When he failed to offer durable medical equipment to patients, Perez typically billed Medicare more than a dozen of the average cost of the durable medical equipment that he offered to the patient.
In furtherance of the scheme, Putulin and Jones frequently answered phone calls from Medicare beneficiaries who received durable medical equipment that they never asked for, wanted, or needed. Putulin and Jones also replied to requests from the insurance companies for prescriber’s orders and other medical records that they could not provide.
The sentencing guidelines provide for a punishment of a maximum of 10 years in prison, 3 years of release under supervision, and a 250,000 U.S. dollars fine. Sentences are enforced by a federal district court judge on the basis of the United States Sentencing Guidelines and other statutes.
The announcement was made on 20th January 2021 by the U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; the Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Birmingham Field Division Johnnie Sharp Jr.; the Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, Boston Division Phillip Coyne; and the Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service Joseph W. Cronin.
The mater is being prosecuted by the United States Assistant Attorney of Lelling’s Health Care Fraud Unit Elysa Q. Wan.
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