The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco on Thursday announced the filing of charges against 30 defendants — two corporations and 28 individuals — in an illegal kickback scheme connected to an East Bay home health care provider.
Hayward-based Amity Home Health Care and Advent Care hospice were named in the case as being at the center of a bribery scheme in which Bay Area doctors were bribed to refer patients to the company through Medicare. As the Chronicle reports, the scheme runs afoul of a federal anti-kickback statute that "criminalizes influencing referrals for federally funded health care through payments." The law comes with a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
At the center of the case is Amity CEO Ridhima “Amanda” Singh, who stands with others accused of doling out bribes to 13 doctors and five nurses to the tune of $8 million. In exchange for the bribes, Singh and her company reportedly reaped $115 million in fraudulent Medicare billings. The bribes also reportedly included trips to Las Vegas, Warriors tickets, lavish dinners, and pricey handbags.
As KPIX reports, Singh faces up to 35 years in prison given other charges that include witness tampering, and lying to federal investigators.
Among the accused doctors are Bhupinder Bhandari of Pleasanton, Kimberly Hicks of Oakland, Yelena Kabanskaya of San Jose, Gerald Myint of Union City, Tam Nguyen of San Jose, Juan Posada of Cupertino, Scott Taylor of Oakland, Henry Watson of Oakland, Zheng Zhang of Saratoga, April Mancuso of Los Gatos, Kerisimasi Reynolds of Los Gatos, Andre Nicolas Gay of Union City and Mariam Hasan of Milpitas.
While Amity and Advent did in fact provide care to all the patients involved in the scheme, the payments it received were fraudulent under federal rules.
The charges announced Thursday were the result of a multiyear undercover operation, as the Chronicle reports, and the investigation is ongoing. An employee at Amity and Advent agreed to cooperate with federal investigators. The investigation revealed that Amity has ended up dominating the home health industry in the Bay Area in recent years by controlling its own referrals.