Two Convicted in $25 Million Medicare Scheme

NEW ORLEANS (CN) – A clinical psychologist and the owner of a separate psychological services company were convicted Wednesday for their involvement in a $25.2 million Medicare fraud scheme in which they overcharged for services, some of which were unnecessary or never rendered.

Federal prosecutors said the scheme was carried out through eight companies at nursing homes in several Gulf states.

Psychologist Rodney Hesson, 47, of Slidell, La., owner of Nursing Home Psychological Service branches in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and Gertrude Parker, 63, also of Slidell, who owns Psychological Care Services in the same states, were convicted following a week-long trial in the federal court in New Orleans.

They each were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to make false statements related to health care matters.

According to evidence presented at trial, the companies contracted with nursing homes to provide psychological services to their residents.

Through the defendant companies, Hesson and Parker billed Medicare for hours of psychological testing services the nursing home residents did not need and in some instances did not receive. Between 2009 and 2015, the companies submitted over $25.2 million in claims to Medicare, a significant number of which were fraudulent. In all, Medicare paid more than $13.5 million in fraudulent claims, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The jury verdict included a money judgment of $8.95 million as well as forfeiture of Hesson’s home and at least $525,000 in seized currency. A sentencing hearing for both Hesson and Parker has been set for May 4, 2017 before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.