Three people were indicted this month in connection with a multi-million dollar health care fraud scam related to a medical supply firm based out of Ventura and Hawthorne, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The operator of Ventura-based Kaja Medical Equipment & Supply “allegedly orchestrated a scheme in which corrupt physicians prescribed medically unnecessary durable medical equipment” such as power wheelchairs and oversaw the submission of fraudulent bills to Medicare, according to a news release.
The owner, Tamara Yvonne Motley, also operated Action Medical Equipment and Supplies in Hawthorne, federal officials said.
The Hawthorne location was in business until 2014 and the Ventura location was in business until 2016.
Motley, 49, of Redondo Beach, and two employees are named in the 29-count indictment. A grand jury returned the indictment on Dec. 14 but it was unsealed Thursday after the trio was arrested and pleaded not guilty.
Motley, also known as Tamara Ogembe, and the employees, identified as Cynthia Karina Marquez and Juan Roberto Murillo, were charged with 20 counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiring to launder money.
Marquez, 42, of Paramount, worked at both locations as an office manager. Murillo, 41, of Montebello, worked at both locations as a repair technician, federal officials said.
Over a nearly eight-year period, the Hawthorne company billed Medicare more than $18.2 million for medical equipment, which was mostly power wheelchairs, and for wheelchair accessories, knee braces and back braces, according to authorities. The company also allegedly billed Medicare $10.3 million for the repair or replacement of the wheelchairs, authorities said.
When Medicare changed the reimbursement rules for power wheelchairs, the Hawthorne company stopped billing for the equipment and instead billed for repairs to the power wheelchairs, the news release states.
Between July 2013 and November 2016, the Ventura company allegedly billed Medicare $6.3 million for power wheelchairs, related accessories and the repair or replacement of the wheelchairs. Medicare paid Kaja about $2.8 million for those claims, the indictment alleges.
Both companies allegedly submitted bills for repair or replacement services “that were not medically necessary,” were not needed and were often not performed, according to the news release.
“The majority of bills submitted in this case allegedly involve fraudulent repair work,” the news release stated.
The trial is expected to start Feb. 13, federal officials said.