HOUSTON – A 58-year-old resident of Richmond has been ordered to prison for 25 years following her convictions of conspiracy and aiding and abetting health care fraud, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
A Houston jury returned guilty verdicts against Brenda Rodriguez in January 2019 following a three-day trial.
Today, U.S. District Judge Lynn H. Hughes ordered her to serve a total of 300 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence of her role in the scheme. In handing down the sentence, the court noted that as part of a larger conspiracy Rodriguez was responsible for all of the loss to taxpayers the scheme generated.
Brenda Rodriguez owned and operated the QC Medical Clinic in Richmond.
At trial, the jury heard Rodriguez paid doctors to approve patients for home health care regardless of whether it was medically necessary. Rodriguez then sold those approvals to various corrupt home health care providers. These providers then billed Medicare for services that were either unnecessary or never provided.
During the trial, jurors were able to watch video that captured the fraud committed at Rodriguez’s clinic. Potential clients were given brief exams, often by unlicensed people posing as doctors, and then quickly approved for medical services that were unnecessary.
As a result of the investigation and prosecution, several other doctors and administrators have also been convicted of crimes ranging from Medicare fraud to the payment of kickbacks.
Ultimately, the providers billed Medicare for over $11 million as a result of patients Rodriguez provided.
Rodriguez was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS)-Office of Inspector General and FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tina Ansari and Thomas Carter prosecuted the case along with Trial Attorney Scott Armstrong of the Fraud Section in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion. In addition, DHHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with DHHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.