A couple is sentenced to time behind bars for defrauding.
Leah Hagen, 50, of Arlington, Texas, and Michael Hagen, 54, of Austria, were convicted by a jury in July of this year of “one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive health care kickbacks” and “one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering” after eight days of deliberation. This month, the Hagens were sentenced by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to over 150 months behind bars for their role in the $27 million Medicare kickback scheme and U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle of the Northern District of Texas also ordered the couple to pay more than $27 million (their gains) in restitution.
In the United States, Medicare fraud is the claiming of Medicare health care reimbursement to which the claimant is not entitled, according to the federal government. While there are many ways to do this, the government says the end goal is always to collect money from the program illegitimately. Each year, the U.S. discovered numerous cases of fraud in every state of the U.S.
According to DOJ officials, the two owned and operated Metro DME Supply LLC and Ortho Pain Solutions LLC. In the nearly three-year span from March 2016 to January 2019, they paid kickbacks to a call center in the Philippines “in exchange for signed doctors’ orders for DME that were used to submit false claims in excess of $59 million to Medicare.” The governmental program unknowingly paid the co-defendants more millions in return. To hide their gains, the Hagens transferred the money overseas. With that the funds they received they bought numerous assets including a home in Spain.
In order to carry out the conspiracy, the Hagens signed contracts that disguised the payments as marketing and business outsourcing practices using DME as a front. The Department of Justice found that these claims “were for services that were medically unnecessary and not provided as represented.” Over the course of the three-year plot, in some situations, individuals were bribed into accepting braces they did not need in exchange for gift cards or just convinced to do so.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham of the Northern District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Miranda Bennett of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Region; Acting Assistant Director Jay Greenberg of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; and Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office made the couple’s sentencing announcement.
This case was investigated by Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)’s Dallas Field Office and was brought as part of Operation Brace Yourself, which the government reports is a federal law enforcement initiative headed up by the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of South Carolina, District of New Jersey, and the Middle District of Florida.