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FEDERAL CHARGES BROUGHT IN MEDICARE FRAUD CASE

 FEDERAL CHARGES BROUGHT IN MEDICARE FRAUD CASE
 PHILADELPHIA, May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Michael M. Baylson, U.S.


Attorney, announced today that the federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania returned an indictment against Mark Mickman, 64, 3100 Boardwalk, Apartment 904, Atlantic City, N.J., on charges of mail fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering and structuring of financial transactions in his operation of Home Health Care and Comfort Home Care.
 The companies, suppliers of durable medical equipment to senior citizens covered by Medicare, are charged with submitting more than $1 million in fraudulent Medicare claims from 1989 through 1991.
 Mickman and Home Health Care and others were previously named as defendants in a civil false claims suit filed by the United States in November 1989. After a preliminary injunction hearing in December 1989, District Court Judge Donald W. Van Artsdalen found the defendants had engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare, and froze certain assets and bank accounts owned or controlled by the defendants. A civil contempt motion is pending for the alleged violation of this order.
 "Because of the brazen continued violations of law, despite an earlier civil injunction, we referred this case to a grand jury and believe that the evidence warrants criminal prosecution," said Baylson. "This case is an example of the aggressive and coordinated use of criminal and civil sanctions for fraud


on federal health care dollars by this U.S. Attorney's Office. Perpetrators of health care fraud should be put on alert that we'll use both barrels if necessary to stop them."
 The current indictment charges that Mickman submitted claims that falsely alleged that senior citizens were bedridden and had other conditions requiring a wide range of medical equipment, and that he submitted claims for large quantities of durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, bed pads and knee braces, that the senior citizens neither requested nor needed.
 According to the indictment, Mickman hired telemarketers to call senior citizens and ask them for their Medicare number and doctor's name; he then allegedly had the physicians sent completed Certificates of Medical Necessity, which many doctors routinely signed. When the senior citizens called to refuse unwanted equipment that was delivered to them, the telemarketers would tell the beneficiaries that their doctors had requested the equipment for them and wanted them to have it.
 The indictment further alleges that Mickman used aliases -- including Jack Simon, Sam Chaplin and J.L. Higginbotham -- and utilized mail drops to hide his control of Comfort Home Care, and that he submitted Medicare claims under the Comfort name to avoid the freeze placed on Home Health Care funds by the court in 1989. He is further charged with money laundering in his attempt to hide the $347,000 proceeds of Comfort Home Care claims through such devices as having others cash checks made out to cash and returning the money to him, and the purchase of $100,000 in bearer bonds from Merrill Lynch, using a fictitious name. In August 1990, the indictment states, Mickman directed the destruction of records of Home Health Care to prevent the grand jury from obtaining those records.
 The maximum sentence under the charges in the indictment is 150 years' imprisonment and a fine of $7,250,000.
 Stating that health care fraud and abuse costs Americans more than $50 billion each year, Attorney General William P. Barr earlier this year announced a major health care fraud initiative, creating a Health Care Fraud Unit and transferring 50 FBI counterintelligence agents to specialized investigative units concentrating on health care cases in 12 selected cities, including Philadelphia.
 In the past year, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia successfully prosecuted health care fraud cases that ranged from telemarketing and kickback schemes to false billings to Medicare for such diverse scams as items not delivered to patients, unnecessary ambulance transportation, and services not covered by Medicare such as toenail trimming.
 "The recent upswing in the number of criminal charges brought against those in the health care industry who engage in fraudulent practices will be continuing at an ever increasing rate," said Baylson.
 The Mickman case was investigated by the Inspector General of Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecution has been assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter F. Schenck.
 /delval/
 -0- 5/7/92
 /CONTACT: Peter F. Schenck of the U.S. Attorney's Office, 215-597-5613/ CO: U.S. Attorney's Office ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


LJ-KA -- PH042 -- 7811 05/07/92 16:33 EDT
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Date:May 7, 1992
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