On Nov. 20, 2023, a resident of Plano, Texas pleaded guilty to a deceptive scheme aimed at acquiring around $1.7 million from Medicare through COVID-19 tests.
According to U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton for the Northern District of Texas, in September 2023, 55-year-old Damon Heath Roberts was charged through criminal information and confessed to a single count of conspiring to solicit or receive kickbacks for referrals to a federal health care program.
Roberts, the proprietor of JDS Labs in Plano, admitted that he and other collaborators, including healthcare providers and those with patient data access, initiated the sharing of Medicare beneficiary information. This was done to enable JDS Labs to invoice Medicare for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. In return for the patient data, Roberts would provide kickbacks based on the Medicare reimbursement to the healthcare providers or other involved individuals.
To obscure the kickback payments, Roberts attempted to employ passthrough arrangements and cash transactions. He filed claims amounting to nearly $4 million for the over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, securing around $1.7 million in reimbursement. Roberts also disbursed approximately $149,066 in bribes and kickbacks.
The case is currently under investigation by the Dallas Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Inspector General within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Texas Office of the Attorney General for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Assistant U.S. Attorney Renee Hunter is handling the prosecution of the case.
Roberts's sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2024. He could receive a maximum sentence of 5 years in federal prison for the charges.