SAN FRANCISCO -- Thirty people have been charged with a multimillion-dollar scheme that allegedly bribed doctors and others to steer Medicare patients to the largest home health care provider in the San Francisco Bay Area, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
The criminal complaints name Amity Home Health Care and its CEO along with a related company, hospice service provider Advent Care Inc., along with dozens of doctors, nurses, marketers and a social worker.
Amity provided $8 million worth of kickbacks for the referrals, ranging from Golden State Warriors tickets, Las Vegas trips and Louis Vuitton handbags to "literal envelopes of cash,'' David Anderson, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, said at a news conference.
The Medicare patients brought in $115 million in funds to Amity and Advent, authorities said.
The complaints said law enforcement officers recorded each defendant offering, approving or accepting illegal payments for patient referrals.
"These doctors and health care professionals sold patients like commodities, placing their own financial gains over the well-being of their patients and betraying the basic principles of their profession,'' Craig Fair, the FBI's deputy special agent in charge for San Francisco, said in a news release.
However, there's no evidence that the patients received poor care, Anderson said.
Those charged include Ridhima "Amanda'' Singh, Amity's chief executive officer.
A telephone message seeking comment was left with Amity.
Singh's lawyer, Chuck Kreindler, declined to comment to the San Jose Mercury News outside court.
A woman who answered a call to Advent said she had no comment and would not identify herself.
If convicted of taking part in illegal kickbacks, the defendants could each face up to 10 years in federal prison and a $100,000 fine.