Chicago Woman Sentenced to 56 months for Home Health Care Fraud
Last of Four Individuals Sentenced in this Conspiracy
(STL.News) An Illinois woman was sentenced yesterday in the Northern District of Illinois to 56 months in prison and ordered to pay $6.3 million in restitution for her participation in a conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud.
According to court documents, and the evidence presented at trial, Angelita Newton, 43, of Chicago, worked at Care Specialists, a home health care company owned by Ferdinand Echavia and later his wife, Ma Luisa Echavia. While operating between 2011 and 2017, Care Specialists fraudulently billed Medicare at least $6.3 million. At trial, the government demonstrated that around 90% of the patients were not homebound and did not qualify for the types of care that Care Specialists billed Medicare for. Further, many patients received cash bribes to receive home health “visits,” some of which were performed in the visiting nurse’s car. Newton facilitated the conspiracy by falsifying patient visit records which were used to support claims billed to Medicare and was convicted by a federal jury on Feb. 14, 2020.
In addition to issuing Newton’s sentence today, Judge Virginia Kendall previously sentenced three others involved in the conspiracy. On Oct. 21, 2021, Ferdinand Echavia was sentenced to 84 months’ confinement and three years’ supervised release. On Nov. 5, 2021, Ma Luisa Echavia was sentenced to 60 months’ confinement and three years’ supervised release. Another participant in the conspiracy, Reginald Onate, who pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government throughout the investigation, was sentenced to a term of three years’ probation.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting Assistant Director Jay Greenberg of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Special Agent in Charge Mario Pinto of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
The FBI Chicago Field Office and HHS-OIG investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Leslie S. Garthwaite of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Mott (formerly of the Fraud Section) prosecuted the case.