A Van Nuys man was charged today with defrauding the federal Medicare program by submitting claims for medical equipment that in some cases was never received and by paying kickbacks to physicians who signed off on bogus bills.
Vasu Deo, 43, was named in a criminal information filed this morning in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Deo, who is the owner of Vasu Wheelchair Repair (VWR) in Santa Monica, has agreed to plead guilty to three counts of health care fraud and one count of paying kickbacks to a physician.
Deo defrauded Medicare by billing for durable medical equipment (DME), such as wheelchairs, that was never received by the Medicare beneficiary or was not medically necessary. Deo paid others to obtain Medicare beneficiary information that was later used to submit claims to Medicare for DME. Deo paid kickbacks to various physicians for signing documents called Certificates of Medical Necessity (CMNs) that are needed to bill Medicare for DME. In some cases, doctors were paid $500 for signing CMNs.
Deo billed Medicare primarily for motorized wheelchairs, wheelchair accessories and hospital beds. Medicare reimburses DME companies approximately $4,000 to $8,000 for motorized wheelchairs, the accessories and hospital beds.
From January 1998 through October 2001, VWCR billed Medicare approximately $2.7 million and was paid approximately $1.15 million in reimbursement for fraudulent claims.
Deo is expected to make his first court appearance on November 24.
As a result of the anticipated guilty pleas in this case, Deo will face a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison.
“We will not let individuals such as Vasu Deo steal from Medicare and other government health care programs to enrich themselves,” said Acting Principal Deputy Inspector General Dara Corrigan, of the Department of Health and Human Services, Inspector General’s Office. “By falsely billing for millions of dollars in unnecessary and undelivered durable medical equipments, Deo diverted scarce taxpayer funds intended to help vulnerable beneficiaries for his own personal profit.”
This case was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.