Husband and wife allegedly bilked $45M from Medicare, kept indentured servant

Defrauding Medicare of millions of dollars was a family affair for Richard and Maribel Tinimbang, a Chicago couple who allegedly used their healthcare business to steal $45 million from the government payer.

The husband and wife's business, Patients First Physical Therapy, purported to provide in-home therapy services to patients of three Lincolnwood, Ill.-based home healthcare companies owned by Mr. Tinimbang's mother, Josephine Tinimbang, according to a federal indictment filed last week.

The three companies allegedly paid kickbacks and bribes to obtain Medicare beneficiaries, falsified medical records and ignored physicians who refused to certify Medicare beneficiaries as being in need of home healthcare, according to the Department of Justice.

The scheme, which involved the three Tinimbangs and 10 other defendants, defrauded Medicare of $45 million between 2008 and 2014.

The government claims Richard and Maribel Tinimbang made several personal purchases with proceeds from the scam, including a 5,000-square-foot home in Lincolnwood.

Mr. Tinimbang is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud Medicare, one count of conspiracy to pay or receive healthcare kickbacks, two counts of paying kickbacks to induce referrals of Medicare beneficiaries and one count of money laundering conspiracy. His wife is charged with one count each of conspiracy to defraud Medicare and money laundering conspiracy.

In addition to the healthcare fraud charges, the couple is accused of attempting to force a Filipino immigrant to work for them illegally. Mr. Tinimbang sponsored the woman's visa, saying he would pay her $50,000 to be a business consultant for one of the home healthcare companies. However, once the woman was in the U.S., Mr. Tinimbang put her to work as a full-time nanny and housekeeper and attempted to get her to sign a "servitude contract" that provided for payment of $66 per day— regardless of the number of hours worked — for a term of seven years. 

The couple allegedly threatened to send the woman back to the Philippines without being paid for the work she had already performed to force her to surrender her passport and sign the contract, according to the DOJ.

If convicted, the couple faces prison time and the forfeiture of $45 million.

More articles on healthcare industry lawsuits:

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