Judge sentences Broaddus couple to 108 months for ambulance fraud

From the U.S. Attorney's Office

A Broaddus, Texas, couple has been sentenced for health care  fraud violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Claudette Read, 46, and Robert Earl Read, 47, were each sentenced to 108 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.  The Reads were both found guilty by a jury on Sep. 11, 2009 of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and 17 counts of mail fraud following a 3-week trial.

According to information presented in court, the Reads owned and operated C.R.R. ENTERPRISE, d.b.a. as Priority One EMS, an ambulance transport business with its main office in Jasper, Texas.  Priority One provided ambulance transportation services to individuals including Medicare beneficiaries, Medicaid recipients, and private insurance clients.  They maintained offices in Lumberton, Jasper, San Augustine and Center, Texas.  From 2004 to November 2007, the Reads defrauded Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield by obtaining money from these programs by making false representations about the patients they transported.  Specifically, the Reads would bill these health benefit programs for transporting dialysis patients who did not meet the definition of bed confined, or who were otherwise able to travel without the use of an ambulance.  The Reads submitted, or directed others to submit, fraudulent claims to these programs on behalf of Priority One from their Lumberton, Texas office.  The Reads were indicted by a federal grand jury in Beaumont on Mar. 18, 2009.

The Reads were ordered to pay restitution to Medicare in the amount of $1,414.877.33; to Medicaid in the amount of $265,454.52; and Blue Cross and Blue Shield in the amount of $86,349.46.  The Reads were also ordered to pay a separate forfeiture judgment in the amount of $93,535.95.

This case was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services – OIG, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Texas Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Simpson and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Kummerfeld.