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California Patient Recruiter Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison for Medicare Fraud in Power Wheelchair Scam
Date:5/24/2010

WASHINGTON, May 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Fresno, Calif.-area patient recruiter was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison for her participation in a nearly $1 million power wheelchair fraud scheme, announced the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS).

Maria Nela Moreno, 57, was also sentenced by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter of the Central District of California to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $110,000 in restitution.

On Feb. 26, 2010, a Los Angeles jury found Moreno guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and six counts of health care fraud. The evidence introduced at trial showed that Moreno solicited Medicare beneficiaries for expensive, high-end power wheelchairs and other medical equipment they did not need by meeting with groups of seniors and going door-to-door at low-income, senior living communities in Sanger and Parlier, Calif., near Fresno. Several Medicare beneficiaries testified that Moreno wore a badge with her picture on it that appeared to resemble a hospital identification badge and told them she was from Medicare or another government agency.

According to the beneficiaries who testified at trial, Moreno convinced them to provide their identification cards and Medicare insurance numbers by telling the beneficiaries that they should take a power wheelchair because Medicare would soon run out of money, and the beneficiaries would not be able to
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice
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