Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging eight individuals, including the President, Vice-President and Chief Finance and Strategy Officer at a company that provided medical billing and coding services on government contracts and an employee at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud and related charges, in connection with a scheme to defraud WRNMMC and the Defense Health Agency (DHA). The indictment was returned on March 17, 2022, and unsealed today upon the arrests of three defendants. Charged in the indictment are:
Akbar Masood, age 59, of Great Falls, Virginia;
Michelle O. Peebles, age 48, of Riverdale, Mayland;
Harriett Jackson, a/k/a “Harriett Soumah,” age 49, of Glenarden, Maryland;
Judith Russ, age 58, of Washington, D.C.;
Rhonda Paul, age 46, of Washington, D.C.;
Wesley Williams, age 47, of Takoma Park, Maryland;
Bagnon Jaques Titi, age 44, of Riverdale, Maryland; and
Alfred Antonio Duncan, age 44, of White Plains, Maryland.
Masood, Peebles, and Jackson are expected have initial appearances this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. The remaining defendants are expected lớn have initial appearances later today or on April tám, 2022 .
The indictment was calculate my age
ounced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron ; Special Agent in Charge Scott Moreland of the Major Procurement Fraud Field Office, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division ( CID ) ; Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dillard of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service – Mid-Atlantic Field Office ( DCIS ) ; Special Agent in Charge Alison F. Zavada of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service ( NCIS ), Washington Field Office ; & Acting Inspector General Rene Febles of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Office of Inspector General ( WMATA OIG ) .
According phệ the 12 – count indictment, Masood was a part owner & “ Chief Strategy Officer ” of Company A, a Virginia-based company that served as a prime contractor for medical tư vấn services mập WRNMMC & DHA. Peebles was a site manager at Company A. Jackson was President, Peebles was Vice-President, và Masood was “ Chief Finance and Strategy Officer ” of Company B, headquartered in Tysons, Virginia, which primarily provided medical billing và coding services on government contracts .
The indictment alleges that beginning in at least December năm nay, Masood, Peebles, and Jackson established HMA Solutions as a Delaware Limited Liability Corporation, headquartered in Riverdale, Maryland, bự take advantage of WRNMMC’s increased need for contract medical coders. Using his authority within Company A, Masood allegedly subcontracted work bự HMA on Company A’s contract with WRNMMC phệ supply medical coding tư vấn without disclosing his participation in HMA mập Company A’s co-owners. Masood, Peebles, and Jackson allegedly used the stolen identities of actual persons, including credentialed medical coders, mập demonstrate that HMA had the ability phệ perform medical coding evaluation, feedback, và training services as a subcontractor bự Company A. The indictment alleges that the defendants used falsified signature of one victim, who was a credentialed medical coder, phệ sign consulting agreements with Company A and representing that other identity theft victims would be performing the work. Further, the indictment alleges that Masood, Peebles, and Jackson generated false billable hours using the names of identity theft victims which they charged bự Company A, which then billed those hours béo WRNMMC. Russ, an official with WRNMMC, then allegedly verified the work performed by the non-existent coders. According mập the indictment, beginning no later than January 2017, Russ was paid regularly by Peebles or Company B & had not disclosed this outside income or employment mập officials at WRNMMC .
According lớn the indictment, Masood, Peebles, & Jackson steered a subsequent WRNMMC contract with Company A for in-person coding tư vấn from highly skilled coders ( CDI Specialists ), who are paid at a higher rate, phệ HMA as a sub-contractor. Masood, Peebles, và Jackson then allegedly billed Company A — và thereby WRNMMC — for CDI Specialist hours, none of which were ever provided .
As detailed in the indictment, Peebles và Jackson then recruited Paul, Williams, Titi, và Duncan Khủng pose as medical coders và sign consulting agreements with Company A, even though none of them had any experience or credentials as medical coders. The indictment alleges that Paul, Williams, Titi, and Duncan repeatedly submitted falsified medical coding invoices, claiming the processing of thousands of encounters each month, và causing Company A to bill WRNMMC kết thúc USD một million for their false claims alone .
According béo the indictment, between 2017 & 2019, the defendants obtained approximately $ 3.3 million from the scheme bự defraud WRNMMC & DHA .
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of đôi mươi years in federal prison for conspiracy phệ commit health care fraud và wire fraud. All of the defendants except Russ also face a maximum of đôi mươi years in federal prison for each of the eight counts of wire fraud. Masood, Peebles và Jackson each face a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison, consecutive Khủng any other sentence imposed, for each of the two counts of aggravated identity theft, & Russ faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for participating in the scheme, which was a conflict of interest bự her federal employment. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into trương mục the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines và other statutory factors .
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless & until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings .
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the Army CID, DCIS, NCIS, và WMATA OIG for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam K. Ake, và Rajeev R. Raghavan, who are prosecuting the federal case .
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, và resources available Khủng báo cáo fraud, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md và https://leowiki.com/usao-md/report-fraud .
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