Friday, March 11, 2016
Defendants scammed Federal Employee Health Insurance Program
WASHINGTON – Russell J. Sveda, 70, and Richard V. Schachter, 56, of Alexandria, Virginia, were each sentenced yesterday to 15 months incarceration for their scheme to steal from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Norbert E. Vint, Acting Inspector General for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Maria L. Kelokates, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS), Washington Division, and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Both Sveda and Schachter pled guilty in October 2015 to Health Care Fraud in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They were sentenced on Thursday, March 10, 2016, by the Honorable Thomas F. Hogan. Upon completion of their prison terms, both defendants will be placed on 36 months of supervised release. They must jointly pay $257,000 to OPM and forfeit money judgments of $257,000.
According to statements of the offense, signed by the defendants as well as the government, Sveda is a former U.S. State Department employee, now retired. He is entitled to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which is the federally-funded health benefit program provided by the U.S. government for federal employees, retirees, and their eligible spouses and dependents. State Department Foreign Service employees and retirees, like Sveda, and federal employees living overseas, have the option of choosing the Foreign Service Benefit Plan of Washington, D.C., as their health insurance plan. Participants of this plan, like Sveda, pay for medical services and medications up front and then submit claims via facsimile or mail and are reimbursed by a check sent through the U.S. Postal Service or a payment electronically transferred into their bank account.
Schachter is Sveda’s spouse and acted on behalf of Sveda in demanding payments for medical insurance claims. Between February 2007 and October 2010, Sveda and Schachter submitted to the insurance carrier for the Foreign Service Benefit Plan claims for pharmaceutical items and services purportedly obtained from a German pharmacy, Stadt-Apotheke Fussen, located in Fussen, Germany. Similarly, from May 2007 through October 2012, Sveda and Schachter submitted claims for medical services Sveda allegedly obtained from various German doctors, clinics, and hospitals. Sveda’s claims used the names and addresses of various doctors, clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies, and other health care service providers, located in Germany.
Since at least 2007, Sveda and Schachter have engaged in extensive foreign travel and extended stays at spas. Government travel records — such as passport stamps and U.S. government’s records of border crossings — as well as documents obtained from airlines, ocean line operators, credit and debit card payments, and a major spa company, establish that Sveda was traveling across the Atlantic, receiving spa treatments in Massachusetts, or otherwise traveling outside of Germany on the dates when Sveda and Schachter claimed Sveda was in Germany receiving medical services from doctors, clinics, hospitals, or other health care providers. Based on information the government has received to date, $257,000 of those claimed medical services, purportedly performed in Germany, are known to be false given the dates when travel and other records establish that Sveda was not in Germany.
In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Phillips, Acting Inspector General Vint, Assistant Director in Charge Abbate, and Inspector in Charge Kelokates expressed appreciation for the work performed by Special Agents and analysts from OPM’s Office of the Inspector General and the FBI, and Postal Inspectors and analysts with the USPIS. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who are working on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Donna Galindo, Kristy Penny, John Lowell, Jessica Mundi, and Corinne Kleinman, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ted Radway and Diane Lucas, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who prosecuted the case.
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia
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