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National fraud allegations include Tampa nurse for siphoning fentanyl


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  • | 3:15 p.m. July 1, 2024
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A two-week nationwide law enforcement action that resulted in 193 criminal indictments in nationwide health care fraud and opioid abuse schemes includes nine cases in Florida’s Middle District and four people on the west coast of Florida. 

A statement from the U.S. Justice Department says the 193 cases resulted in the submission of more than $2.75 billion in alleged false billings. Federal agents have also seized more than $231 million in cash, luxury vehicles, gold and other assets in these cases.  

Cases on the west coast of Florida include: 

  • Eric Brewer, 28, of Lakeland, was charged with tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud in connection with his unlawfully acquiring and tampering with fentanyl infusion bags. 

A registered nurse who worked in intensive care units, Brewer, officials allege "engaged in two similar criminal schemes to divert fentanyl at five different Tampa-area hospitals across seven different dates. In the first scheme, which Brewer executed on several occasions, Brewer stole fentanyl by checking out 100 mL bags of liquid fentanyl from locked controlled substance cabinets but keeping the bags for himself rather than administering them to patients or returning them. In the second scheme, Brewer used hospital computers to research which patients were receiving fentanyl intravenously, entered those patients’ rooms even when he had no medical reason to do so, and surreptitiously siphoned fentanyl from their IV drip bags into his own vessel; Brewer would then go to the hospital bathroom, where he would inject himself with stolen fentanyl."

Sometimes, Brewer allegedly tried to cover his theft by replacing the fentanyl he withdrew with an equivalent volume of saline, but sometimes he did not, the release states. "In both scenarios, however, Brewer’s actions deprived the most vulnerable patients of needed medicine," the release states. "Brewer was caught when colleagues observed him acting impaired during a shift and the person who entered the bathroom immediately after Brewer exited found a bloody paper towel and needle inside." 

Hospital officials subsequently examined records and video and discovered Brewer’s pattern of diversion, the release states. 

  • Robert Desselle, 46, of Sarasota, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive health care kickbacks. He was also charged with paying illegal health care kickbacks, according to the news release. Officials contend he recruited patients patients to request cancer testing they didn’t need,

The alleged scheme charges that Desselle, through his company, Desselle’s Sky High Enterprise LLC, paid marketers on a per-patient basis to recruit Medicare beneficiaries for cancer genetic testing (“CGx”) tests that weren't medically necessary. Medicare paid approximately $4.5 million on CGx claims billed for these beneficiaries, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says. 

  • Eve LeBeau, 65, of Clearwater, and Lori Lebrecht, 60, of Largo, were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive illegal health care kickbacks, as well as with paying illegal health care kickbacks to patient recruiters. Authorities contend LeBeau and Lebrecht were part of an alleged scheme to refer Medicare beneficiaries to Prestigious Senior Home Health Care,Inc. and to submit false and fraudulent claims totaling over $2 million for home health services. LeBeau owned Prestigious and Lebrecht was Prestigious’ Director of Nursing, the release states. 

The indictment alleges that LeBeau and Lebrecht conspired to pay, and paid, patient recruiters per patient referral that Prestigious billed to Medicare. Medicare paid approximately $1.3 million based on the false and fraudulent claims, officials allege. 

Descriptions of each case involved in today’s enforcement action are available on the Justice Department’s website

 

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