NewsHub --- Library --- Federal --- Records --- Vinelink --- CIR --- IRE --- IQuery

Physician Sentenced For Defrauding Medicare

  Nov. 24, 2015 -- A Detroit-area physician who led and directed a multi-million-dollar Medicare fraud scheme through his medical practice was sentenced today to 72 months in prison.
   Dr. Hicham A. Elhorr, 48, of Dearborn, Michigan, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds of the Eastern District of Michigan. In addition to imposing the prison term, Judge Edmunds ordered Elhorr to pay $2,073,108.16 in restitution.
   According to admissions in his plea agreement, from approximately August 2008 through September 2012, Elhorr and his coconspirators fraudulently billed Medicare $4.2 million for purported in-home physician services. Elhorr admitted that he employed unlicensed individuals through his visiting physician practice, House Calls Physicians PLLC, who held themselves out as licensed physicians and purported to provide physician home visits and other services to Medicare beneficiaries in Michigan. The unlicensed individuals prepared medical documentation that Elhorr and other licensed physicians signed as if they had performed the visits when, in fact, no licensed physicians had treated the beneficiaries.
   The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan. The case was prosecuted by former Assistant Chief Catherine K. Dick and Trial Attorneys Matthew C. Thuesen and F. Turner Buford of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
  The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force  operates in nine cities across the country and has charged approximately 2,300 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $7 billion since its inception in 2007.

Genetic Information on Diabetes Made Available

   (NIH) - 10/15/2015 -Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH) have expanded a recently launched online library, called a knowledge portal, which allows open-access searching of human genetic and clinical information on type 2 diabetes. Individual data will remain confidential. The portal includes information from several major international networks, collected from decades of research.
   A product of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) for type 2 diabetes, the portal is aimed at advancing type 2 diabetes research and treatment, and will include data from over 100,000 genetic samples obtained from clinical consortia supported by the NIH and FNIH. AMP is an innovative project of government, industry and nonprofit organizations working together to speed research in type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
   “Through AMP, we have an unprecedented opportunity to advance international research in type 2 diabetes,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “Our hope is that this portal – and this partnership – will lead to better disease targets and a shorter, less expensive drug development process, enabling companies to get safe and effective medications to patients who need them faster.”
   The portal collects data from human genetic samples, since the animal and cellular models that are typically used in diabetes drug development before human testing do not always replicate human behavior. The portal provides a way to identify the most promising therapeutic targets for diabetes from troves of potentially relevant human data.
   “The knowledge portal will allow us to translate differences in an individual’s genome into an understanding of how those differences affect a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By harnessing the power of international data sets, we can also better account for differences in race, ethnicity and locality,” said Philip Smith, Ph.D., of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Smith is co-chair of AMP’s Type 2 Diabetes Steering Committee.
   The knowledge portal makes genetic and clinical information searchable in myriad ways, while keeping individual data confidential, to help researchers identify and describe the effects of genes on disease. Searches can include genes, gene variants and genetic regions, and can be cross-referenced with associations between glucose and insulin measurements and other criteria. The data can be sorted to include relevant genetic studies and the kind of data collected, and allows researchers to test biological hypotheses, and conduct many other analyses.
   The portal is publicly searchable and can be used as a tool to learn about genetics and health. However, only approved researchers will be able to access detailed data, while the general public can access aggregate results. Creators of the research engine are eager to expand the network to include more national and international research networks. The international source samples of genetic and clinical data will be housed in their home networks to ensure use of each sample complies with each country’s health information confidentiality rules.
   The portal’s creation was led by David Altshuler, M.D., Ph.D., while at Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in Cambridge. Jose Florez, M.D., Ph.D., also from Broad Institute, and Michael Boehnke, Ph.D., and Goncalo Abecasis, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, were awarded respective grants from NIDDK (U01 DK105554) and FNIH, to continue the portal’s development. The FNIH grant to the University of Michigan supports portal infrastructure and expanded development of analytical tools.
   The portal team will work closely with Broad Institute’s Daniel MacArthur, Ph.D., and Benjamin Neale, Ph.D., who will lead a Center for Genome Interpretation (U54 DK105566) to develop methods to analyze the genomic data collected in the portal.
   “Type 2 diabetes is among our country’s and the world’s greatest and most costly health problems. In the United States alone, the disease affects more than 29 million people, with an additional 79 million more at high risk,” said NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers. “We need more targeted drug therapies to treat type 2 diabetes. While multiple drugs are available to stabilize the disease, people still progress to complications including heart and kidney diseases.”
   In addition to NIH, support for the AMP Type 2 Diabetes project includes pharmaceutical companies Eli Lilly and Company; Janssen Research and Development, LLC; Merck & Co.; Pfizer Inc.; and Sanofi US Services and the not-for-profit organizations FNIH, JDRF International and the American Diabetes Association. Support from these sources funds awards made by the FNIH directly to awardees institutions. Additional support to Broad Institute for the portal is provided by the Carlos Slim Foundation.
   The NIDDK, part of the NIH, conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. The Institute's research interests include: diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. For more information, visit
   Source: National Institutes of Health

Former PD Employee Indicted for Fraud, ID Theft

   TAMPA, Fla. -- 9/22/2015 - United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III recently announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Tonia Bright with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, and four counts of aggravated identity theft related to her involvement in a stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) scheme.
   If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge, five years in federal prison on each of the computer intrusion offenses, and a 2-year term of imprisonment for each aggravated identity theft count that would be served consecutively to the sentence imposed on the other counts
    The indictment also notifies Bright that the United States intends to seek a forfeiture money judgment equal to the proceeds of the offenses.
    According to the indictment, Bright was a civilian employee of the Tampa Police Department (TPD) working as a community service officer in the District 3 station. As part of her duties, Bright took reports from citizens related to incidents not requiring the response of a sworn police officer. In this capacity, she had access to local, state, and federal law enforcement databases, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computerized index. Her use of these databases was restricted to the performance of her authorized duties.
    As part of the conspiracy, Bright allegedly accessed the personally identifiable information (PII) of individuals using a variety of sources, including NCIC, despite having no legitimate law enforcement purpose for doing so. She then provided the stolen PII to others, including Tampa resident Rita Girven, knowing that the information would be used to commit crimes. Girven and others used the stolen PII to electronically file, and cause others to file, fraudulent federal income tax returns claiming tax refunds that they were not entitled to. The fraudulently obtained tax refunds were deposited onto reloadable debit cards, issued in the conspirators’ names and the names of others, including the identity theft victims’ names. Girven and others then used the debit cards at retail establishments and ATMs to withdraw the funds and shared in the proceeds.
    Girven previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 20, 2015.
    An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
    The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the Tampa Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.
   Source: Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force

Photo by Steve Rensberry (c) 2014