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Former Saltville Rescue Squad president sentenced for fraudulently billing Medicare more than $1.6 million
~Eddie Louthian Sr. to serve 48 months in federal prison~
ABINGDON (March 21, 2013)-- The former president of the Saltville Rescue Squad was sentenced late yesterday on healthcare fraud charges for fraudulently billing Medicare approximately $1,650,000 and receiving approximately $750,000 in reimbursements for Medicare ambulance transports. Additionally, the defendant fraudulently billed Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield approximately $1,000,000, and fraudulently received approximately $130,000 in reimbursements for ambulance transports. The defendant was also found guilty of submitting fraudulent trip sheets and Certificates of Medical Necessity forms for billing purposes in addition to making false statements before a federal grand jury.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Tim Heaphy announced today that Eddie Wayne Louthian Sr., 60, of Saltville, was found guilty on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, four counts of making false statements in relation to a healthcare matter, and one count of making a false statement to a federal grand jury. Louthian was sentenced to 48 months in prison by the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon.
"Not only did Mr. Louthian defraud the Medicare system of hundreds of thousands of dollars, he also robbed from seniors in need of medical care. Fraud like his inevitably drives prices up for medical services, which all of us end up paying for," said Cuccinelli.
"Mr. Louthian used the Saltville Rescue Squad as a vehicle to defraud the Medicare program," said Heaphy. "A jury found him guilty to fraudulently billing Medicare for unnecessary services, acts for which he was now been justly punished. This office will continue to root out health care fraud, which drives up costs to consumers."
In order to receive Medicare reimbursements for non-emergency ambulance transports, patients must be bed-confined or in such a medical condition that ambulance transport is necessary. However, Louthian was obtaining reimbursement for transporting patients that did not qualify for non-emergency transport. A jury found that Louthian and Monica Hicks, a member of the rescue squad also charged in the scheme, conspired to fraudulently bill Medicare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield for non-emergency ambulance services for Medicare eligible patients.
In addition to his sentencing, the court imposed a money judgment against Louthian for $907,521, the full amount of the fraud. The court also forfeited Louthian's assets, including bank accounts, vehicles, real estate, and an ambulance service, in partial satisfaction of the money judgment. The court will determine the interest of other persons in these assets at a later hearing.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, the Virginia attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations. Virginia assistant attorneys general and special assistant United States attorneys Vaso Doubles and Janine Myatt prosecuted the case for the United States.