Two healthcare administrators get prison for insurance fraud
Two healthcare administrators were sentenced Monday to state prison for their roles in a $154-million medical insurance fraud scheme in which thousands of healthy patients were recruited to undergo unnecessary surgeries to bill insurance providers, Orange County prosecutors said.
Dee Francis, 63, and Rosalinda Rodriguez Landon, 67, were both sentenced after they pleaded guilty in court last week to conspiracy, grand theft, insurance fraud and other felony charges, the Orange County district attorney's office said.
Francis was sentenced to six years in state prison after she pleaded guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy, eight felony counts of capping or paying for referrals, 30 felony counts for grand theft, insurance fraud and making false and fraudulent claims, and one felony count of filing a false tax return, prosecutors said.
Landon was sentenced to five years and four months, pleading guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy, eight counts of capping, one count of money-laundering and 30 counts for both grand theft and insurance fraud, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors have likened some of those charges in the so-called rent-a-patient scheme to "body snatcher."
A number of other defendants, including three doctors, have pleaded guilty to charges related to conspiracy and insurance fraud.
The charges -- and convictions -- followed an investigation by the California Department of Insurance and Orange County prosecutors, with participation by the California Franchise Tax Board.
Of the 19 defendants charged in the case, 13 were indicted by a criminal grand jury in June 2008, and six others pleaded guilty before the indictment and have been sentenced.
Prosecutors said employees of Unity Outpatient Surgery Center in Buena Park participated in the fraud, recruiting 2,841 healthy people from across the country to receive unnecessary surgeries in exchange for money or low-cost cosmetic surgery.
Prosecutors said insurance companies paid out more than $20 million over a nine-month period.
One defendant, Dr. Mario Rosenberg, has been charged with 49 felony counts and is awaiting trial. He is free on $1-million bail, prosecutors said.
Two others -- both "cappers" or patient recruiters -- are awaiting sentencing.
Ngoc Trang Hunyh, 53, pleaded guilty in August 2011 to 56 felony counts, including conspiracy, capping, insurance fraud, grand theft and tax evasion. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 4, facing a possible maximum sentence of 45 years and eight months in state prison, prosecutors said.
Thuy Thu Hunyh, 54, also pleaded guilty in August 2011 to 58 felony charges of the same nature and is scheduled to be sentenced March 4 as well, prosecutors said.
-- Rick Rojas