The U.S. Attorney's office in Eastern New York recently announced that an owner and officer of a medical equipment company was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.
Helene Michel, 45, was convicted after a three-week jury trial in August 2012 of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and HIPAA identity theft crimes. At the sentencing, Judge Joseph F. Bianco also ordered that Michel forfeit $1.3 million that was seized by the government at the time of her indictment.
According to the evidence at trial, between approximately April 2003 and March 2007, Michel owned and operated Medical Solutions Management, Inc., located in Hicksville, N.Y. Michel used her position as a medical equipment company owner to enter nursing homes in Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Kings, and Duchess counties in order to access and steal patient records.
During the scheme, Michel also falsely assumed a number of roles, including posing at various times as a doctor, a nurse practitioner, and a wound care expert. At times, in her false roles, Michel even accompanied doctors on patient evaluation rounds. Thereafter, Michel used the records that she stole to create and submit $10 million in false billings to Medicare for medical supplies and products that were either not required or not delivered.
Michel spent the Medicare funds that she stole through false claims and identity theft on her own personal interests, including a multi-million dollar home on Long Island's North Shore, a half-million-dollar pension account, and personal items such as luxury cars and designer handbags. Michel's co-defendant Etienne Allonce, the co-owner of MSM, was also charged in the indictment and is believed to have fled from the United States. He remains a fugitive, listed on HHS OIG's (Office of the Inspector General) Most Wanted List. Yes, the OIG has a most wanted list that they actively pursue!