Robert Saul and his wife allegedly thought they could get rich by giving people expensive power wheelchairs and other medical equipment - equipment they didn't need - and falsely billing Medicare.
And they thought they had their bases covered by allegedly telling baffled recipients that Philadelphia was giving out $3,200 wheelchairs for free, or having sources in doctors' offices intercepting phone calls from confused patients.
But the alleged scheme fell apart, according to U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy.
Saul, 36, and his wife, Sheila, 51, were charged yesterday by the U.S. Attorney's Office with defrauding Medicare and other programs by submitting more than $1.2 million in bogus claims.
Saul and his wife, who both live in Philadelphia, own R&V Medical Supplies, which is located on the 11th floor at 1420 Walnut St., in Center City. The company is still in business.
The Sauls did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Also charged yesterday were Lisa Burnett, 40, of Philadelphia, and Carol Mason, 57, of Norristown.
Burnett and Mason worked at a Philadelphia nonprofit that provided service to seniors and the disabled. They allegedly provided the Sauls with client information that was used to bill Medicare for unneeded medical supplies, and for which they were paid kickbacks.
In separate court filings, Susan Landolf, 27, and Debra Stallings, 43, both of Philadelphia, also were charged with participating in the scheme. Landolf worked at a medical clinic and then at R&V. Stallings worked at a private medical practice. Since they were charged in criminal informations, it is likely they have negotiated guilty pleas.
"This case involves breaches of trust at every level: From the medical office employees who sold patients' identity information, to the people charged today who used the Medicare Trust as their personal ATMs," Levy said.
"Any Medicare beneficiary who gets equipment that they know nothing about, or who sees payments for equipment on their explanations of benefits that they do not recognize, should contact the number on the explanation of benefits forms immediately to report it," Levy said.
To report Medicare fraud, call 800-447-8477 or e-mail HHSTips@oig.hhs.gov.