New Orleans Office Manager Sentenced In $50M Fraud Scheme

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A home health company office manager has been sentenced to four years in prison for participating in a $50 million fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said.

         Chief U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance also ordered 58-year-old Joe Ann Murthil to repay $14.1 million Wednesday, Polite said in a news release.

         Polite said Murthil submitted phony Medicare claims and helped pay kickbacks to people who brought patients to Memorial Home Health Inc.

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         Murthil was convicted in May and sentenced Wednesday on one count of health care fraud and two counts of conspiracy. Three defendants tried with Murthil also were convicted on some of those or other charges.

         Court records show Murthil was represented by public defenders and plans to appeal.

         Prosecutors said the plot's organizer and a physician pleaded guilty in December in the seven-year scheme.

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         Memorial was one of at least five New Orleans companies owned by Mark Morad of Slidell, who prosecutors said used them all to submit fraudulent claims. His sentencing is scheduled in March.

         Dr. Divini Luccioni is scheduled for sentencing in January. Luccioni admitted signing home health referrals and writing medical equipment prescriptions that were used to support the fraudulent billings.

         Medicare billing records showed that between 2007 and 2014, Morad's companies submitted more than $56 million in claims to Medicare, a vast majority of which were fraudulent, prosecutors said. Medicare paid approximately $50.7 million on the claims.

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