SACRAMENTO — Mariela Panganiban, 48, of Elk Grove, pleaded guilty today to conspiring with the owners of home health care agencies to pay and receive illegal kickbacks in exchange for Medicare beneficiary referrals, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Panganiban worked as the Director of Social Services at a skilled nursing facility in Roseville. In her role, Panganiban assisted Medicare beneficiaries in selecting home health care agencies following their discharge from the facility. Panganiban used her position to steer Medicare beneficiaries to home health agencies in Folsom and El Dorado Hills. In exchange for the referrals, the agencies’ owners paid Panganiban illegal cash kickbacks.
In her plea agreement, Panganiban admitted that the agencies’ owners paid her kickbacks in exchange for the referral of approximately 100 beneficiaries. Medicare paid the agencies over approximately $735,000 for services they purportedly provided to the beneficiaries. Because the agencies obtained the referrals by paying kickbacks, they should not have received any reimbursement from Medicare.
This case is a product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Thuesen is prosecuting the case.
U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley is scheduled to sentence Panganiban on May 20. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross loss or gain. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.