Feds: Health care agency in Lincolnwood paid $400K in Medicare kickbacks
Updated: August 22, 2012 2:19PM
CHICAGO — The owners of a north suburban home health care agency paid and received $400,000 in kickbacks for Medicare patient referrals totaling $5 million, federal prosecutors alleged Monday.
Marilyn Maravilla and Junjee L. Arroyo, part owners of Goodwill Home Healthcare Inc. in Lincolnwood, were each charged with conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks for Medicare patient referrals, and numerous counts of violating the anti-kickback statute, federal prosecutors announced.
Maravilla, Arroyo, a third owner and an employee paid kickbacks to nurses, marketers and home health care workers for referring patients to Goodwill for services reimbursed by Medicare between August 2008 and July 2010, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Payments ranged from $400 to $700 for each new care cycle, and $100 to $300 for each recertification, the indictment charges. During the nearly two-year period, Goodwill received 900 home health care cycles that included new patients and recertification of existing patients for additional 60-day cycles of care.
Maravilla and Arroyo allegedly created a company memo establishing a structure for kickbacks for patient recertifications disguised as bonuses in January 2009, the indictment alleges. Nurses would receive a $100 bonus for recertifying a patient for a third cycle, and $200 for readmitting a discharged patient a month after the discharge date.
To make payments in cash, Maravilla and Arroyo obtained Goodwill checks payable to them and recorded on the agency’s books as loans, the indictment said. They allegedly cashed the checks and used the funds to pay kickbacks to marketers.
The indictment alleges they paid Ferdinand Echavia, a licensed nurse who referred patients, $28,000 in kickbacks, and paid $56,000 to a company owned and controlled by Echavia, the indictment said. Maravilla and Arroyo also allegedly paid $10,400 in kickbacks to Jean Holloway, and $21,500 to Rakeshkumar Shah, both of whom marketed Goodwill’s services to Medicare patients. The two owners also are charged with paying $20,000 in kickbacks to two other marketers and $58,000 to at least three other nurses who were not charged.
Maravilla allegedly received $138,000 in kickbacks for patient referrals and Arroyo $44,000 for patients that either he or his wife referred to Goodwill, the indictment said. Maravilla began working as a nurse at Goodwill in August 2008 and during the next two months became an owner and administrator. Arroyo was an owner and the director of nursing.
Echavia, a licensed nurse, was also indicted along with Holloway and Shah.
The 29-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury Aug. 9 and unsealed Friday after the arrests of Holloway, 41, of Bellwood; and Shah, 46, of Des Plaines. Both were released on bond after pleading not guilty in U.S. District Court.
Maravilla, 55, of Chicago; Arroyo, 44, of Elmhurst; and Echavia, 39, of Chicago, all licensed nurses, together with Goodwill as a corporate defendant, are scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 22.
Conspiracy and each count of violating the anti-kickback statute carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.