Elmhurst man charged in $12 million Medicare fraud scheme

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 5:39 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 4:55 p.m. CDT

ELMHURST – Federal law enforcement officials have announced an Elmhurst man was one of three people indicted for their alleged roles in a $12 million health care fraud scheme.

Roger A. Lucero, 62, of Elmhurst, was the physician and medical director of Medicall Physicians Groups, Ltd., a home visiting physician practice based in Schaumburg, which allegedly billed Medicare for patient services that were never provided, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

Rick E. Brown, 56, of Rockford, president of Home Care America, Inc., which controlled the daily operations of Medicall, was also indicted. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond at his arraignment today in Federal Court, according to the release.

Lucero and the third defendant, Mary C. Talaga, 53, of Elmwood Park, a Medicall and Home Care America employee who submitted claims to Medicare on behalf of Medicall and the medical professionals employed by Medicall, were not arrested and will be arraigned on dates yet to be determined, according to the release.

The release also states all three defendants were charged with three counts each of making false statements relating to health care matters. In addition, Lucero and Brown were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and multiple counts of health care fraud.

The indictment alleges Brown and Lucero operated Medicall, and Talaga submitted the company's bills to Medicare, totaling more than $12 million. Brown instructed employees to bill Medicare for patient oversight and other services that were never provided, and Lucero created backdated records in an effort to conceal the fraudulent billings, according to the release. Talaga allegedly billed Medicare for these services, even though she knew they were not documented, the release stated.

Health care fraud conspiracy and each count of health care fraud each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of making false statements relating to health care matters carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The FBI and The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of the Inspector General conducted the joint investigation as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

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