Dr. Mark E. Gibbs and Dr. Laila Hirjee, two Dallas doctors, were sentenced Thursday to a combined 23 years in prison and millions in restitution. Gibbs and Hirjee were the directors of the hospice service, Novus Health Services, which scammed Medicare by admitting patients who did not require hospice service.
Prosecutors claimed that the two directors acquired around $40 million from Medicare after filing false Medicare claims for patients at the hospice center.
Novus CEO Bradley Harris pleaded guilty to charges against him and then proceeded to testify against Gibbs and Hirjee. Harris stated that hospice patients were not examined by a licensed medical professional but by himself and nurses.
He also said that Dr. Gibbs and Dr. Hirjee were two of the many doctors who claimed that they made “face-to-face” examinations of each patient, but they did not.
Gibbs and Hirjee also face an additional charge of inappropriate prescription of Schedule II substances. According to the US Attorney’s Office, witnesses claimed that the pair signed blank prescriptions that Harris would then use to prescribe substances to patients, such as morphine or fentanyl.
Harris allegedly also formed another hospice company to continue Medicare fraud after the Medicare billing department caught on.
As US Attorney Chad Meacham put it, “They claimed to have had hands-on experience with hospice patients, when in fact, they’d entrusted life-or-death medical decisions to untrained businesspeople.”
Dr. Gibbs was sentenced on Thursday to 13 years in prison. His accomplice, Dr. Hirjee, will face 10 years in prison. Around $44 million in restitution is set to be paid between the two. The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the US Department of Human Services, and the Texas Medicaid Fraud Unit.
“We are satisfied to know they will spend the next decade behind bars,” Attorney Meacham remarked.