A federal judge on Wednesday handed a 51-month prison sentence to a woman who defrauded the Medicare program of $11.1 million in a medical equipment billing scheme, Nevada’s U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.
Alegria Phankonsy, 43, formerly of Orange County, Calif., but currently in custody, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson to forfeit $11.1 million in assets. Phankonsy pleaded guilty in November to one count of health care fraud and one count of tax evasion.
According to the indictment and facts supporting the guilty plea, Phankonsy from March 2005 to February 2010 operated several medical equipment supply companies in Las Vegas. These included Proforma Medical Source, Divine Health and Freemotion Plus Medical Supply.
Phankonsy operated the first two companies using the aliases Marie Villanueva and Marie Phan respectively, and ran Freemotion using the name Phankonsy. She fraudulently billed Medicare for medical equipment such as leg prostheses and power wheelchairs that had not been ordered by a physician, were not needed by clients or were not provided to clients at all.
To identify clients, Phankonsy paid “marketers” in southern California to obtain patients for her various companies. The marketers provided these clients with money in exchange for their Medicare information, which was used to bill Medicare for the unnecessary items or items not provided.
For the tax years 2006, 2007 and 2008, Phankonsy prepared and submitted false individual tax returns by under-reporting the income she earned from the Medicare fraud scheme. She under-reported roughly $7.8 million in gross receipts, resulting in a total tax loss of $2.4 million. Phankonsy also attached fraudulent W-2 forms to her returns and falsely represented that she made significant estimated tax payments, when she had not.
The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for Health and Human Services and IRS Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Crane Pomerantz.