GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA –Lawrence Keefe, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, today announced the convictions of Erik M. Schabert, 48, a physician, and his ex-wife, Mika Kamissa Harris, 49, both of Gainesville, Florida, on health care fraud and money laundering charges involving more than $8 million. The convictions came after a three-week federal jury trial that involved more than 45 witnesses and over 850 exhibits introduced into evidence.
The jury heard evidence that, while owning and operating Reliant Family Practice in Gainesville, Harris and Schabert attempted to defraud health care benefit programs of more than $8 million by submitting fraudulent claims. Evidence showed that between January 2013 and July 2016, Reliant Family Practice received $4.4 million from Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield for chemical peels and dermabrasions following false diagnoses of rosacea and actinic keratosis. The jury heard evidence that Harris engaged in numerous financial transactions in which she laundered approximately $3.1 million dollars in proceeds from the health care fraud scheme.
“Americans struggle every day with the high costs of health care, and they are as much the victims of this kind of fraud scheme as the programs that suffered financial losses,” Keefe said. “These convictions were the result of a concerted effort by federal law enforcement, and the United States Attorney’s Office will pursue these types of criminals as aggressively and diligently as possible.”
“It’s not every day you see a crime so audacious that it results in a 90-count guilty verdict, but Erik Schabert and Mika Kamissa Harris earned their fate. Through a sizeable fraud scheme, these two offenders cheated federal health care programs and used the ill-gotten proceeds to fund their own lavish lifestyle,” said Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “Our agents, working diligently with our law enforcement partners, will continue to investigate such costly schemes to bring such criminals to justice.”
Schabert was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care or wire fraud and 24 counts of health care fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy and 10 years in prison for each of the health care fraud convictions. Harris was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care or wire fraud and 49 counts of health care fraud. Additionally, she was convicted of 40 counts of money laundering as a result of spending the fraudulently obtained proceeds on such things as paying off her home mortgage, adding a swimming pool and other home improvements, obtaining plastic surgery, and funding an annuity for herself. Harris faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy, 10 years in prison for each of the health care fraud convictions, and 10 years in prison for each of the money laundering convictions. Sentencing is scheduled for January 27, 2020, at 2:30 p.m. at the United States Courthouse in Gainesville.
“The FBI views health care fraud as a severe problem that impacts every American,” said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “Fraud and abuse take critical resources out of our health care system, and contribute to the rising cost of health care for everyone. This case is the result of a multi-agency investigation into a complex scheme, and the FBI and our partners will continue to allocate significant resources to investigate these crimes and prosecute those who defraud the American public.”
Assistant United States Attorneys Justin M. Keen and Frank T. Williams prosecuted the case, which was jointly investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service– Criminal Investigation.
“The jury verdict represents one of the largest convictions of its kind in Gainesville and could have only been accomplished by the tremendous effort of all the agencies involved, to include the extensive cooperation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield,” stated Ronald A. Loecker, Acting Special Agent in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation. “Our agents, who are experts at following the money, provided a financial road map for the jury to see how the defendants profited from their extensive fraud. We will continue to provide our expert financial skills to investigating the most egregious crimes in an effort to protect the taxpayers and victims of fraud.”
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html