GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA –Lawrence Keefe, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the sentencings of Erik M. Schabert, 48, a physician, and his ex-wife, Mika Kamissa Harris, 49, both of Gainesville, Florida. A jury found both guilty on health care fraud and money laundering charges involving more than $8 million.
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. Between January 2013 and July 2016, Reliant Family Practice received over $4.4 million from Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield for fraudulent claims for chemical peels and dermabrasions relating to false diagnoses of rosacea and actinic keratosis.
Harris was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care or wire fraud, and 48 counts of health care fraud. Additionally, she was convicted of 41 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, purchasing commercial property, and funding an annuity for herself. Harris was sentenced to 90 months prison, followed by3 years supervised release.
Schabert was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care or wire fraud, and 24 counts of health care fraud. Schabert was sentenced to 42 months prison, followed by 3 years supervised release.
“Society places a large measure of trust in the hands of licensed physicians, and it is profoundly disturbing when a respected professional abuses that trust by falsely billing for treatments that were not medically necessary or which were never actually provided,” U.S. Attorney Keefe said. “In addition, this doctor’s actions undermined the trust placed in him by his patients.”
“Fraudsters like Dr. Schabert should pay a hefty price for violating both the Hippocratic Oath and his standing as a trusted Medicare provider”, said Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “Our watchdog agency and network of partners will continue to aggressively investigate physicians and other health care providers who bill Medicare for unnecessary services just to boost their own profits.”
In addition to receiving sentences of imprisonment and supervised release, Harris and Schabert were jointly ordered to pay $4,471,572.52 in restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield. The government has already forfeited Harris’ residence, the commercial property, and over $260,000 in an annuity account.
“Health care fraud costs our country tens of billions of dollars a year, and rooting out these
schemes is central to the well-being of our citizens and the overall economy,” said Rachel L.
Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “The FBI is committed to
aggressively investigating and bringing to justice those who undermine our health care system.”
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.
“Special Agents of the IRS will continue to bring our financial expertise to assist our law
enforcement partners in combatting large-scale healthcare fraud, “stated Ronald A. Loecker, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation, Tampa Field Office.” Fraud of this magnitude must be countered through robust investigation of these trusted professionals.”