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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rexford Respiratory Therapist Sentenced To 12 Months And One Day For $1.4 Million Medicaid Fraud And $200,000 Tax Fraud

MISSOULA – A respiratory therapist from Rexford, Montana has been sentenced to 12 months and one day for defrauding Medicaid of over $1.4 million and filing tax returns that failed to report her correct income resulting in a tax loss of over $200,000. Anna Sue Tope, 67, was the vice president of Eagle Calf Technical Corporation (Eagle Calf), a company providing medical equipment and services on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Eagle Calf’s clients in the Browning area are generally low-income patients eligible for Medicaid.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad Spraker told the court that Tope, a respiratory therapist, had worked at various hospitals and owned a medical supply business prior to starting the Montana company with a business associate started in 1998. In 2001, Tope became the sole signatory for Eagle Calf bank accounts.

From 2003 until 2011, Spraker explained, an Eagle Calf customer received catheter supplies from the company. The patient required the use of one of two types of tracheal suction catheters. Cath-n-Glove kits, which cost approximately $2.70 each, are much less expensive than a closed system catheter (approximately $16 each). Cath-n-Glove kits are disposable and designed for one-time use, but a patient may require multiple kits each day. A closed system catheter, however, may be used for a longer period of time—typically multiple days to one week before a patient requires a new one.

Eagle Calf provided Cath-n-Glove kits from the time the patient started receiving supplies from Eagle Calf in 2003 until November 2011. Investigators located six wholesale suppliers who had sold 20,626 Cath-n-Glove kits to Eagle Calf on 59 invoices during the period of the indictment. None of the invoices showed Eagle Calf ever purchased a closed system catheter from any supplier.

Although furnishing the patient with the less expensive catheter, Tope fraudulently billed Medicaid for the more expensive closed system catheters. Medicaid was billed for more than $1.7 million for over 108,000 closed system catheters purportedly supplied to the patient. Had the Medicaid program not been misled as to the medical equipment actually being provided, reimbursement to Eagle Calf would have been approximately $300,000. Tope’s fraudulent scheme cost the government $1.4 million.

The case was investigated by the Montana Medicaid SURS Unit, the Internal Revenue Service, the Health Care Fraud investigator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

PACER Case Reference: 14-57

Updated January 14, 2015