Two Psychologists Plead Guilty in $25 Million Nursing Home-Testing Scheme
Two clinical psychologists pleaded guilty today for their involvement in a fraudulent psychological testing scheme that preyed upon Medicare recipients living in nursing homes throughout the Southeastern United States.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Dallas Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office made the announcement.
Beverly Stubblefield, Ph.D., 62, of Slidell, Louisiana, and John Teal, Ph.D., 46, of Jackson, Mississippi, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana. They were charged in a superseding indictment on Oct. 22, 2015, along with co-defendants Rodney Hesson, Psy.D., 46, and Gertrude Parker, 62, both of Slidell, who were originally charged in June 2015 in connection with a large-scale Medicare Fraud takedown.
According to admissions made in connection with their plea agreements, Stubblefield and Teal practiced as clinical psychologists at Nursing Home Psychological Services, Inc. (NHPS) and Psychological Care Services, Inc. (PCS). Stubblefield and Teal admitted that NHPS and PCS were owned and operated by Hesson and Parker, who is Hesson’s mother. NHPS and PCS billed Medicare claiming that NHPS and PCS psychologists, including Stubblefield and Teal, administered psychological tests to nursing home residents throughout Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Alabama. In addition, Teal and Stubblefield admitted that a large number of these tests were not medically necessary and many testing services were not provided. According to the plea agreements, Teal and Stubblefield repeatedly tested the same nursing home residents even though some were incapacitated and could not meaningfully participate in testing.
From 2010 through 2015, Stubblefield and Teal were responsible for more than $5.6 million in fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare, according to the plea agreements.
Hesson and Parker are scheduled to begin trial on Oct. 11, 2016. According to the superseding indictment, from 2009 through 2015, NHPS and PCS submitted more than $25.2 million in claims to Medicare. An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Trial Attorneys William Kanellis, Katherine Payerle and Katherine Raut of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $10 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.