Samuel Curtis III, of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge in a plea agreement with the government; he admitted to Chief U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood that he participated in a scheme to defraud Medicare out of more than $539,000 by submitting phony claims from his companies, Preferred Prosthetics and Orthotics, Brunswick, Georgia, and Team Orthotics and Prosthetics, Houston.
In January, his co-conspirator, Cecil Risher, of Brunswick, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and made a similar bargain.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Torrance Slaughter testified that the scheme began in January 2005 at Team Orthotics and Prosthetics, which Curtis owned and operated and where Risher was the office manager, according to an article in The Florida Times-Union.
The scheme shifted to Preferred when Curtis bought the company in January 2008 and continued through June of that year. A Preferred employee uncovered the fraud and reported it to federal authorities, Slaughter told the court.
Curtis and Risher stole identification information from Medicare patients and physicians, which they used to submit phony claims to Medicare. They billed Medicare for prostheses, braces, and other medical devices that were never provided to patients, were never prescribed by doctors, or were not medically necessary, an FBI and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) investigation showed.
Federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss four counts each of healthcare fraud and aggravated identity theft against Curtis in exchange for his guilty plea and continuing cooperation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Rafferty told the court.
Curtis faces up to ten years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the conspiracy count. Wood ordered him to remain jailed without bail pending sentencing.
Risher remains free on $20,000 bail while awaiting sentencing.