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Seventh person convicted in Lisle hospice fraud scheme

Sun-Times file photo

The former director of nursing assistants at a now-closed hospice in west suburban Lisle has been convicted in a long-running Medicare fraud scheme.

Angela Armenta, 35, faces up to 30 years in prison after she was convicted by a federal jury Tuesday on three counts of health care fraud, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Armenta is the seventh person convicted in a scheme run out of Passages Hospice to fraudulently bill Medicare and Medicaid for services that were not medically necessary, prosecutors said.

When former Passages co-owner Seth Gillman, 47, pleaded guilty in February to one count of health care fraud, he admitted to implementing a bonus system to incentivize nursing staff, including Armenta, to place patients on “general inpatient” services that they did not need, prosecutors said.

Armenta was paid more than $300,000 in bonuses between 2009 and 2012 and told nurses to disregard proper training about general inpatient services, prosecutors said.

A 49-year-old man who pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme, former head of marketing Leroy Moore of Shorewood, also admitted that he and others at Passages offered gifts such as tickets, televisions, and gift cards to staff members at nursing homes to encourage them to refer patients to the hospice, prosecutors said.

The other three former employees convicted in the Passages investigation are former administrator Gwen Hilsabeck, 49, of Pontiac; former director of clinical services Carmen Velez, 36, of Palatine; and former compliance officer Julie Parker, 56, of Shorewood.

The date for Armenta’s sentencing will be set at a hearing July 19, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Gillman, Hilsabeck, Velez, Parker and Moore are scheduled to appear in court March 16, where their sentencing dates will be set.