Nurses, others charged with Medicare-related conspiracy, bribery

(Daily Herald) A nurse from Elmhurst and a marketer from Des Plaines are among five defendants charged with conspiring to pay and receive kickbacks for referring Medicare patients for home health care services provided by Goodwill Home Healthcare Inc. The federal complaint alleges Goodwill owners and nurses Marilyn Maravilla, 55, of Chicago, and Junjee L. Arroyo, 44, of Elmhurst, along with other employees, paid off Ferdinand Echavia, a 39-year-old Chicago nurse, and marketers Jean Holloway, 41, of Bellwood, and Rakeshkumar Shaw, 46, of Des Plaines. In exchange, Echavia, Holloway and Shaw referred patients to the Lincolnwood company, authorities say.

From August 2009 through July 2010, the complaint states that Goodwill billed Medicare for more than $5 million for home care services reportedly provided to patients who became clients as a result of Goodwill paying a total of about $400,000 in kickbacks and bribes.

According to the indictment, the amount of the kickback payment varied. But it generally ranged from $400 to $700 for the start of each new care cycle, which typically ran 60 days, and from $100 to $300 for each recertification.

Authorities also allege that in January 2009, Maravilla and Arroyo sent out a memo to Goodwill employees that outlined the structure for kickbacks, which were referred to as “bonuses.” The memo indicated that nurses who recertified a patient for a third cycle would receive a $100 bonus. Nurses who readmitted a discharged patient a month after his or her discharge would receive a $200 bonus, authorities said. To make the cash payments, Maravilla and Arroyo obtained Goodwill checks payable to them and recorded as “loans.”

As part of the scheme and in addition to their salaries, Maravilla allegedly received about $138,000 in kickbacks, while Arroyo is accused of receiving about $44,000, the complaint indicates.

Echavia received about $28,000, with another $56,000 going to a company he controlled, authorities said, while Holloway received about $10,400 and Shah received about $21,500. Two other marketers who were not charged were paid about $20,000, authorities claimed.

Maravilla and Arroyo did not return calls seeking comment. They and the other defendants will be arraigned in U.S. District Court on Aug. 22.