Bay Area-based Amity Home Health Care, its CEO Ridhima Singh, Advent Care, and dozens of healthcare industry workers have been charged in connection with a patients-for-cash kickback scheme allegedly created by Singh. Federal prosecutors said in a statement that Amity’s CEO orchestrated a “wine and dine” scheme by which medical professionals received at least $115 million in bribes in exchange for Medicare beneficiary referrals.
According to Singh’s Linkedin profile “Amity is a Medicare-certified/CHAP Accredited home health agency that is committed to providing the highest quality skilled care to our patients in the comfort of their own homes,” and, “Our experienced, qualified, and caring licensed professionals go through a rigorous selection process in order to ensure that our patients’ needs are addressed with the best quality care.” Singh also states that, “My goal is to provide the very best home health services in the Bay area. Our strategies are patient-driven, always keeping in mind how best to help our patients.” The FBI would surely disagree with that mission statement.
The defendants named in the recently unsealed complaint referred patients to both Amity and Advent Care Inc., the DOJ said. Allegedly, Medicare beneficiaries in California were sometimes referred to hospice care (provided by Advent) in exchange for financial incentives including a bonus to be paid to the referring physician for as long as the patient was alive.
According to the FBI, the alleged violations "could encourage doctors to abandon curative options earlier with potentially life-threatening outcomes."
Prosecutors were alerted of Amity’s unlawful practices by a whistleblower lawsuit filed in 2016 by employees of a competing home healthcare provider in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Unfortunately, Amity’s case is not the exception, as Medicaid and Medicare fraud are rampant in California.
Over the last few years, the FBI has been investigating the whistleblowers’ claims, recording hundreds of interactions between the defendants. These exchanges provided detailed evidence of how the Hayward-based company’s alleged kickback scheme worked.
Investigators found evidence of Singh’s dealings with marketers, whom she paid to bribe case managers at hospitals, doctors, and others in order to secure Medicare beneficiary referrals. These medical workers received sporting event tickets, expensive dinner invitations, and illegal bonuses if they agreed to send their patients to Amity or Advent. “Amity and the other defendants often disguised the kickbacks as payroll, phony medical directorships, and, at other times, as ‘entertainment,’ ‘reimbursements,’ ‘gifts,’ or ‘donations,’” the DOJ said.
The defendants in the case are:
- AMITY HEALTH CARE
- ADVENT CARE, INC.
- RIDHIMA ‘AMANDA’ SINGH (Livermore), CEO of Amity
- BRENDA ADDISON (Oakland), an Amity employe
- BHUPINDER BHANDARI, a Pleasanton-based doctor,
- MERVINA DEGUZMAN (San Jose), a nurse/case Manager
- KIMBERLY HICKS, an Oakland-based doctor
- YELENA KABANSKAYA, a San Jose-based doctor
- GERALD MYINT, a Union City-based doctor
- TAM NGUYEN, a San Jose-based doctor
- JUAN POSADA, a Cupertino-based doctor
- EWELINA SCZENDZINA (Gilroy), a marketer
- SCOTT TAYLOR, an Oakland-based doctor
- HENRY WATSON, an Oakland-based doctor
- ZHANG ZHENG, a Saratoga-based doctor
- GLENNDA SANTOS (Castro Valley), a marketer
- APRIL MANCUSO, a Los Gatos-based doctor
- KERISIMASI REYNOLDS, a Los Gatos-based doctor
- MARIAM HASAN, Milpitas-based doctor
- CATHERINE CARIAGA (Fremont), a nurse/case manager
- TERENCE TIRONA (Hayward), nurse/case manager
- SAL DEL ROSARIO (San Jose), a case manager
- ANDRE NICOLAS GAY, Union City-based doctor
- BELINDA ROY (Fremont), a nurse/case manager
- NICOLE SUNO (San Leandro), a marketer
- STELLA TEODORO (Union City), a nurse/case manager
- HILDA TACORDA (Hayward), a marketer
- REBECCA PINA (Redwood City), a marketer
- VINEETA SINGH (Hayward), a social worker
- CAROLINE PRESCOTT (San Ramon), a marketing director at Landmark Villa, Senior Residential & Assisted Living
If found guilty, Ridhima Singh could be sent to prison for 20 years. The other defendants face a maximum 10-year sentence. On the other hand, the two companies charged could face $1,000,000 for each violation. The defendants also face financial penalties. Additionally, the court could order restitution amounting to millions of dollars.
U.S. Attorney David Anderson said in a statement that, “this is the largest cash-for-patients scheme ever charged criminally in the Northern District of California.”
Remember, calling the Medicare hotline does not qualify you for a cash reward or give you all the whistleblower protections and anti-retaliation provisions of the False Claims Act. Contact us directly if you would like to learn more. You can reach an operator by calling 888.742.7248 or by filling out our confidential online form.