Owner of Texas hospice chain gets 20 years in prison for $150M fraud

The owner of a Texas hospice chain, who was convicted of falsely telling thousands of patients with incurable diseases they had less than six months to live, has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $120 million in restitution, the Department of Justice announced Dec. 16. 

Rodney Mesquias was sentenced about one year after he was convicted of healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to obstruct justice and conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks. 

From 2009 to 2018, Mr. Mesquias orchestrated a scheme that involved $150 million in false claims for hospice and other healthcare services. The claims were submitted through Merida Group, a hospice company with dozens of locations in Texas that was owned by Mr. Mesquias.

According to evidence presented at trial, Mr. Mesquias and Merida Group aggressively enrolled patients with long-term incurable diseases in their hospice programs. In some cases, Merida Group marketers falsely told patients they had less than six months to live and sent chaplains to lie to the patients, according to the Justice Department.  

Mr. Mesquias allegedly fired employees who refused to go along with the fraud. 

Henry McInnis, the CEO of the hospice provider and one of Mr. Mesquias co-conspirators, was convicted last year of healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He's awaiting sentencing. 

Two other co-conspirators have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, according to the Justice Department. 

More articles on legal and regulatory issues:
Pennsylvania physician sentenced for involuntary manslaughter
Massachusetts physician accused of $10.6M in billing fraud
Former owner of healthcare staffing firm charged with wage-fixing 

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