LAWFUEL – Legal News Network – Lourdes “Lulu” Perez, the registered nurse who once owned the two largest home health agencies in California was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for her role in defrauding Medicare out of $40 million and for filing false tax returns that concealed her ill-gotten gains.
Perez, 53, is a registered nurse who formerly lived in Glendale and currently resides in San Diego. Perez owned and operated Provident Home Health Care Services, Inc. in the Eagle Rock section of Los Angeles, and Tri-Regional Home Health Care, Inc. in San Dimas. Perez entered a guilty plea to health care fraud and tax charges October 4, 2004, but the documents outlining the case and documenting her cooperation with the government remained under seal until last month because Perez was cooperating with the government.
Perez orchestrated a scheme in which her companies obtained patients by paying illegal kickbacks to marketers, doctors and patients then billed Medicare for services that were not medically necessary and in some cases not performed at all, and created false medical records to support the fraudulent claims and avoid detection of the fraud by Medicare contractors. The scheme ran from October 2002 until September 2003, when federal authorities seized more than $20 million in assets from Perez and Medicare suspended further payments to Provident and Tri-Regional.
Shortly after that, Perez agreed to plead guilty to health care fraud and tax charges and to cooperate with the government in the investigation of others and the recovery of money. She has been providing such cooperation for almost three years and has already re-paid approximately $34 million to the government.
Perez was sentenced by the Honorable Stephen V. Wilson, to 46 months imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, payment of an additional $6,127,374 to Medicare and $874,336 to the Internal Revenue Service. Perez had faced a statutory maximum penalty of 59 years in federal prison. In sentencing Perez, the court noted both the magnitude of the fraud and the extent of Perez’s cooperation, stating:
This was an endemic fraud that went on for some time that bilked the government of $40 million. . . This was an horrendous fraud. Had defendant not taken the path she did at the eleventh hour and had defendant not cooperated, she might have found herself spending the rest of her life in prison.
Investigation of others associated with Provident and Tri-Regional is ongoing. The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Health Care Fraud Unit in Los Angeles; IRS Criminal Investigation Division; and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations..
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Consuelo S. Woodhead
Coordinator, USAO Health Care Fraud Unit