SAN DIEGO — The Justice Department announced charges in a massive health care fraud scheme that may have incurred $1.4 billion in losses.
Two people running their own clinic say they were trying to help when they offered COVID-19 testing but the judge in the case says they intentionally mislead people and the coronavirus testing never happened.
“In May of 2021, the department announced a historic nationwide action against COVID-19 healthcare fraud. And just a few short months later, we are announcing another round of prosecutions,” said Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., US Asst. Attorney General.
After a six-week, nationwide federal operation, criminal charges were filed against 138 people in 31 federal districts across the country, including the Southern District of California based in San Diego.
Roselia Kubeck and Rosario Gonzalez pleaded guilty this month for falsely claiming to provide COVID-19 testing last year. Prosecutors say they went door-to-door at senior complexes in El Centro and Calexico, CA.
“It was a general respiratory pathogens panel, which tested for a whole variety of pathogens but actually did not include COVID-19,” said Valerie Chu, Asst. US Attorney, Southern District of CA.
Chu said the couple was trying to get new patients for Specialty Health Center, the clinic they’d just opened. She said they also took urine samples from people without telling them it had nothing to do with coronavirus testing.
“Then they would submit these to a laboratory with requisition forms indicating that they were needed because a person had acute respiratory distress. All the while, any result wouldn’t have tested for COVID-19,” Chu said.
The US Attorney’s office says it was tipped off by a property manager at one of the senior home complexes. Now Chu wants people to beware of healthcare scammers, especially seniors and people with disabilities, who have Medicare and Medi-Cal.
“Trust in your primary care physician. That is the person who knows your history, who knows the conditions that you have. When they make a recommendation, typically they’re looking out for you and your best interest,” Chu said.
Both Kubeck and Gonzalez faced a Class A misdemeanor charge. They were placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay over $14,000 in restitution to Medicare and Medi-cal.