A prominent New Orleans businesswoman and Democratic donor pled guilty to a health care fraud scheme that drained $30 million out of Medicare, the Justice Department announced earlier this month.
Lisa Crinel, former owner of the New Orleans-based Abide Home Care Services Inc. that provided services to homebound individuals who were Medicare beneficiaries, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks.
Crinel falsified patient diagnoses in order to bill Medicare a greater amount of money and also falsified medical records that ultimately led to unnecessary services being performed on patients, according to prosecutors.
"Crinel and Abide created an atmosphere where RNs and other health care professionals would compromise their medical and ethical judgment in order to defraud Medicare," the Justice Department said in a statement. "Court documents also show that Crinel and Abide entered into sham employment contracts and medical director contracts with doctors and others to cover up the illegal kickback relationship between Crinel, Abide, and those doctors and other individuals."
Crinel is facing a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release following imprisonment on the first count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. On the second count of conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks, Crinel faces a maximum of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and a term of supervised release up to three years following imprisonment.
Three others additionally pled guilty to health care fraud charges involving Abide.
One such individual, Sheila Mathieu, worked as a nurse for the company and pled guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the theft of government money and property. Mathieu was paid $48,794.69 between July 2012 and March 2014 for performing fraudulent or unneeded services at the homes of patients and is facing up to one year in prison and a fine of $100,000.
Crinel is considered a prominent businesswoman in the New Orleans area and has been a consistent donor to Democratic politicians since at least 1999.
In 1999, Crinel made her first of many donations to William Jefferson in the amount of $3,000. Jefferson, who was running for governor of Louisiana on the Democratic ticket at the time, was later sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2009 for taking hundreds of thousands in exchange for brokering business deals in Africa during his time in the United States House of Representatives.
Abide Home Health Care gave Jefferson $5,300 between 2007 and 2008.
Abide did not return a request for comment on the matter.