(CN) – An office manager at a medical equipment company admitted that she and her former pastor submitted Medicare claims for unnecessary power wheelchairs. Darawn Shadene Vasquez pleaded guilty to the fraud in California’s Central District Court, the Department of Health and Human Services said.
Prosecutors say Vasquez, her former pastor Christopher Iruke and four others paid around $6 million to four companies that Iruke either owned or controlled through alleged straw owners.
The defendants were charged in September 2009 shortly after Vasquez received subpoenas for the four companies’ records. Prosecutors say she and another person shredded documents related to the fraud until the paper shredder overheated. They flushed the remaining documents down a toilet.
Charges against Vasquez were filed in connection to a massive nationwide crackdown on Medicare fraud, according to the Justice Department. Vasquez admitted to using fake prescriptions and documents to bill Medicare for unnecessary wheelchairs.
The companies that Iruke owned or controlled were Pascon Medical Supply, Horizon Medical Equipment and Supply, Contempo Medical Equipment and Ladera Medical Equipment.
Vasquez faces a maximum 10 year prison term a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced on Oct. 3. Her alleged co-conspirator Iruke is scheduled to go on trial May 3. Trial Attorney Jonathan T. Baum is in charge of the prosecution.