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Chicago man gets 70 months for submitting false Medicare claims

A Chicago man was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison Monday for submitting more than $1.5 million in false claims to Medicare for psychotherapy services.

Bryce Woods, 37, was convicted of six counts of health care fraud at a trial in June 2013, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office. He was sentenced to 70 months in prison Monday by Judge Virginia M. Kendall.

Woods was an employee of Take Action Inc. and Inner Arts Inc., which claimed to provide psychotherapy services to Medicare beneficiaries living in skilled nursing homes in Chicago, according to the statement.

The owner and operator of Take Action Inc. and Inner Arts Inc., 55-year-old Keenan R. Ferrell, was sentenced to 88 months in prison in August 2014.

Ferrell and Woods, both of Chicago, were convicted for submitting false claims to Medicare for more than five years, according to the statement.

In the claims, they represented that Ferrell, a licensed psychologist and Medicare enrolled provider, had provided between 45 and 50 minutes of one-on-one psychotherapy to patients in nursing homes, when in fact, the sessions were conducted by Woods or psychology graduate students they recruited, prosecutors claimed. Ferrell did not actually attend the sessions.

The services are reimbursable by Medicare only when provided by an enrolled provider.

“This is an abuse of a program designed for people who need it,” Judge Kendall said in imposing the sentence. “This was an egregious fraud.”

Kendall also ordered Woods and Kendall to serve two-year terms of supervised release and to pay $1,525,496 in restitution.