This is a yearly report put out by the Univ. of Illinois
The year 2015 was a banner year for corruption in the State of Illinois, the third most corrupt state in the nation. Based on the evidence in this report, it appears that our elected officials, our state and local governments, and society as a whole, are losing the battle against corruption. The most salacious corruption case of the past year is rooted in Downstate Illinois. Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and former Congressman from the town of Plano, some 50 miles west of Chicago. Hastert was indicted by federal prosecutors in May for structuring the withdrawal of $1.7 million dollars in violation of bank laws and for lying to the FBI. According to news reports, Hastert gave the money to a former student of Yorkville High School to compensate him for concealing Hastert’s alleged misconduct decades ago when Hastert was a teacher and coach at the school. Hastert was convicted in October when he pleaded guilty to a felony count of evading bank reporting laws in a hushmoney scheme. He is now awaiting sentencing. While the Hastert indictment and conviction garnered national news headlines and was the most significant corruption story of the year, Illinois experienced many additional corruption events in 2015. In this report, we document 27 convictions, 28 indictments, and the launching of 11 corruption investigation. In addition we cover the sentencing of 30 public corruption convicts last year, most of whom were convicted in a year or two before 2015.
FROM THE MEDICAL SECTION OF THE REPORT:
Medical fraud in Illinois Medical fraud is a white-collar crime that involves dishonest filling of medical claims or providing and billing for unnecessary medical treatments. This often affects elderly or disabled individuals who are recipients of federal or state medical benefits. Medical fraud schemes not only rip off the system, but also take advantage of vulnerable individuals and pose risks to their health. In 2015, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of the Health Care Fraud & Prevention Team, a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, carried out one of the largest corruption investigations in its history. The operation took place in 17 districts throughout the United States, resulting in charges against 243 individuals, including 46 doctors and other licensed medical professions, who allegedly participated in fraud schemes involving approximately $712 million in false billings. Since its inception in 2007, Strike Force operations in nine states have charged over 2,300 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $7 billion. In 2015, a number of cases were prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney of Northern District of Illinois and twelve individuals were charged. In the Guerrero, et. al. case, seven individuals who worked at three home health care companies were charged with $45 million fraud between 2008 and 2014. The fraud as alleged included paying illegal bribes and kickbacks to obtain Medicare beneficiaries; ignoring doctors who refused to certify beneficiaries as “homebound” and eligible for care; enrolling patients who did not need or want the care; subjecting patients to pre-planned cycles of discharges and re-enrollments, regardless of their medical needs; and falsifying medical records to make patients appear to be homebound or sicker than they actually were. Three other cases involved medical professionals also charged with health care fraud. In one, Zenaida Dimalig of Bensenville allegedly paid cash kickbacks to Medicare-covered patients, who, in turn, allowed their Medicare information to be used to bill Medicare for homehealth services that these individuals did not need. Dimalig then passed on this Medicare information and records that falsely suggested that certain services were provided to Medicare beneficiaries to home health care agencies for the purpose of billing Medicare. In another case Barry Fisher of River Forest, is alleged to have falsely certified patients as “confined to the home,” requiring skilled nursing services, and falsification of information in patient medical records. 13 In the third case, a Chicago dermatologist, Omeed Memar was indicted for health care fraud for allegedly billing cosmetic treatments fraudulently as the destruction of large numbers of pre-cancerous lesions. For a period of approximately six years between 2007 and 2013, Memar allegedly falsely diagnosed patients with actinic keratosis, ordered his staff to provide intense-pulsed light treatments for his patients, and instructed his staff to document the procedures falsely as the destruction of 15 or more precancerous lesions. Other cases include: a $6 million Medicare fraud and kickback scheme at a Chicago home health care practice; kickbacks by a Chicago psychiatrist for prescribing anti-psychotic drugs; Medicare fraud by a psychologist and psychotherapy services; false billing of Medicare by a suspended physician; health-care fraud by the owner of two nursing agencies that provided unnecessary services to Medicare beneficiaries; a Medicare kickback conspiracy by owner and executives at closed Sacred Heart Hospital; a $ 23 million Medicare fraud conspiracy by leader of two health clinics ; the falsification of Medicaid Waiver Program bills by a personal assistant in the Home Services Program; a $10.8 million fraud scheme by a Wheeling Chiropractic Group; and a $2.5 million health care fraud by the owner and operator of health clinics located in Park Ridge and Skokie, Illinois. The prevalence of such a large number of medical fraud cases is evidence that corrupt acts are not confined to elected officials but can be found in the various professions, the business class and among average working men and women.