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The founders of a clinic with locations in Texas were sentenced to prison Friday for submitting $9.6 million in false worker’s comp claims, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Team Work Ready vice president Frankie Lee Sanders, 55, was sentenced to 300 months in prison for conspiracy, health care fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. He was also ordered to pay $13.4 million in restitution.Pamela Rose, a TWR founder and chief financial officer, was sentenced to 120 months and ordered to pay $14.5 million in restitution.
“The sentence issued today should be an explicit deterrent to those healthcare providers engaging in illegal activity in order to receive undeserved monetary payments. Fraud committed against federal benefit programs is a serious offense that will not be tolerated,” U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr., said in a prepared statement.
TWR had clinics in five states, including Federal Work Ready in Houston and Alamo Work Ready in San Antonio.
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According to testimony during the 16-day trial, the company billed for skilled one-on-one physical therapy provided by a chiropractor, but patients were ordered to exercise independently on treadmills, bicycles and elliptical machines with the Nintendo Wii game. A Houston patient testified that she felt that some of the exercises she was asked to do had nothing to do with her carpal tunnel wrist injury, specifically the treadmill.
The jury also heard testimony from 11 former employees, including unlicensed therapy technicians in Houston, who reported 30 to 60 patients a day came to the clinic. Employees testified that they did not perform all the one-on-one services documented on patient treatment notes and admitted they frequently completed the patient treatment notes at the end of the day by following a “cheat sheet.”
Two federal agents went undercover as “injured federal employees” at the Houston and New Orleans clinics. The jury watched portions of video recordings covertly made by the undercover agents that showed patients independently exercising and receiving care from unlicensed and obviously untrained staff, according to the Department of Justice.
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