Chicago Couple Indicted in Schemes to Defraud Medicare and Force Labor
Some of the fraud that is alleged to have taken place against governmental agencies appears to have come from defendants who tried to keep their illegal activities in the family. This is illustrated by the case of a married couple and the husband’s mother. Earlier this month, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division – along with several other agencies and individuals including the FBI and HHS-OIG – announced that a Chicago couple had been charged in an indictment with a scheme to defraud Medicare. The couple was also charged with conspiring to employ a woman against her will. Richard Tinimbang and his wife Maribel were charged with participating in a $45 million fraud scheme involving three home health care companies owned by Richard Tinimbang’s mother, Josephine. The companies are alleged to have paid bribes and kickbacks to obtain Medicare beneficiaries, ignored doctors who refused to certify beneficiaries of being in need of home health care and falsified Medicare records.
In total, three defendants have pleaded guilty in this case which is part of a larger investigation into health care fraud. Ten others, including Josephine Tinimbang are awaiting trial. Richard and Maribel Tinimbang’s business – Patients First Physical Therapy – ostensibly provided in-home therapy services to patients of three home health care companies – Donnarich Home Health Care Inc., Josdan Home Health Care Inc. and Pathways Home Health Services LLC.
Richard Tinimbang also allegedly submitted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security false forms in order to allow a Filipino woman to legally work in the U.S. Moreover, Tinimbang told officials that her field of employment was as a business analyst in order to enable her to qualify for an H-1B visa. According to the indictment, when the woman arrived in the US, Tinimbang put her to work as a nanny and housekeeper. The couple then allegedly forced the woman to sign a seven year contract the terms of which provided that her pay would only be $66 per day regardless of how much work she had done. Further, the contract stipulated that if the women quit before the seventh year, she would be required to play $25,000 in damages. Finally, the couple is also alleged to have threatened to send the woman back to the Philippines without pay for work she had already performed.
As far as the fraud charges are concerned, the couple allegedly used – along with Josephine Tinimbang – the proceeds to make numerous personal purchases including shares of stock. The indictment also alleged that the couple concealed the money they had illegally obtained by claiming them to as business expenses. All of the charges boil down to: one count of conspiracy to defraud Medicare, one count of conspiracy to pay or receive health care kickbacks and two counts of paying kickback to induce referrals to Medicare beneficiaries against Richard Tinimbang. He is also facing one count of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to obtain forced labor and one count of presenting false statements in an immigration document. His wife, Mirabel Tinimbang, is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud Medicare as well as one count of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to obtain false labor.
The HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. If you have any information regarding companies and/or individuals who you believe are defrauding the government you should contact a false claims act attorney and contact the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) or go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.