Indian Health and Human Services
Fighting fraud in Indian Health and Human Services programs is an OIG priority. Below are some examples of enforcement actions:
On 2/27/23, the United States Attorney for South Dakota announced the indictment of a former President to the Oglala Sioux Tribe for wire fraud, larceny, embezzlement. and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization. According to the 7/21/22 indictment, "[b]eginning in January 2019 and continuing through January 2020," the former President "began scheduling official travel and receiving checks for related costs when in fact he was not traveling or incurring the costs of airline flights, hotels, or food. Despite knowing he had not traveled and that he was not entitled to the travel funds," he "fraudulently submitted vouchers claiming he was going to travel and was entitled to travel funds." He "would then take the travel checks and would use the embezzled funds for his own personal use, including cashing the checks and spending the funds at the Prairie Wind Casino on the Pine Ridge Reservation."
The Director of the Ponca Tribe's Domestic Violence Department was convicted of embezzlement and theft from an Indian tribal organization and ordered to serve 4 years' probation and pay $19,431.57 in restitution. The employee created false reimbursement requests indicating they were intended to pay for medical bills, grocery bills, and home furnishing and décor-related expenses for certain tribal domestic violence victims. She then signed the final authorization for the reimbursement of these bills from tribal grant funds provided by the federal government pursuant to the Victims of Crimes Act. In truth, the bills being reimbursed were not expenses incurred by tribal domestic violence victims. Instead, they were for her own personal bills.
A Tribal member who worked for the Tribe was indicted for theft of funds from a Federal program and embezzling at least $5,000 from the Oglala Sioux Tribal Health Administration.
Pine Ridge Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Embezzlement and Theft from Indian Tribal Organization
A Tribal member was sentenced to 9 year in prison for obtaining and distributing fentanyl and hydrocodone pills on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
A Tribal member was convicted of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance after distributing hydrocodone on an Indian Reservation.
A former IHS physician was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release, a $35,000 fine and a $500 special assessment for sexually abusing five female patients--- often after locking the door of the examination room. He also threatened to withhold medications or care from some of them unless they complied with his sexual demands. These incidents occurred between 2007 and 2018.
A South Dakota tribal member was addicted to prescription controlled substances and was no longer able to obtain controlled substances as a result of her behavior. She assaulted other IHS beneficiaries, including her minor children, in order to obtain prescriptions from medical providers for the injuries she intentionally inflicted. As a result of her actions, three victims lost four fingers to amputation. She fabricated stories as to how the individuals received their injuries, and also provided false statements to health care providers in order to obtain controlled substances and health care benefits. Once the individuals received controlled substances, she took the controlled substances, despite the individuals having significant bodily injuries. On October 22, 2021, she was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The former Executive Director of Ain Dah Ing, a Wisconsin halfway house serving Native Americans suffering from addiction and substance abuse disorders was sentenced to two years for theft of federal funds. The center's former bookkeeper received a one year sentence. Both defendants were ordered to pay $777,283 in restitution. The center was funded by an IHS contract and the defendants embezzled 67% of the programming funding over a ten-year period and gambled away most of the money.
A former paramedic pled guilty to stealing hundreds of vials of fentanyl, morphine and hydromorphone from the Rosebud Ambulance Service and Crow Creek Ambulance Service He consumed all the stolen substances. He was sentenced to one month in Federal prison, one year of supervised release, a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $100, and restitution in the amount of $4,428.98.
A former IHS doctor who managed the hospital's diabetes program, used his ability to prescribe an expensive diabetes drug that was unavailable in the IHS pharmacy, to obtain $45,540 in kickback from private pharmacies that filled the prescriptions. The doctor pled guilty to a federal conflict of interest violation and was sentenced to three months in prison, two years of supervised release, and a $10,000 fine.
A tribal member was charged with assaulting five individuals with rocks on the reservation for the purpose of committing health care fraud. These assaults resulted in serious bodily injury and required three of the victims to suffer finger amputations. It is further alleged that she also committed health care fraud by giving fraudulent information concerning the intentional assaults in order to obtain services and controlled substances, namely Hydrocodone.
A former IHS physician pled guilty to conflict of interest charges. He had been in charge of the diabetes program at an IHS hospital in Montana and prescribed an expensive diabetes drug that was not on the IHS formulary and not available at the hospital's pharmacy. Court documents reflect that Dr. Devous solicited multiple pharmacies in Montana to fill expensive prescriptions in exchange for Dr. Devous receiving a "cut" of the profits and kickbacks. The pharmacy paid the doctor $45.540 during a six-month period.
(September 10, 2020; U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana)
A former Blackfeet Tribal Chairman was sentenced to 10 months in prison and ordered to pay $174,000 in restitution for taking part in an overtime scheme to steal Tribal Head Start funds. His wife, the former Head Start personnel manager, was previously sentenced to 9 months in prison. The theft resulted in a loss of funds to pay for books, learning materials and nutritional programs. According to Court records, the former Chairman approved overtime claims that he know were false. Outside auditors questioned the overtime claims, identifying them as, " beyond necessary and reasonable," and lacking any supporting documentation. The Tribe also conducted a review and repaid $250,620 to HHS for disallowed costs and other expenses. In the press release, the United States Attorney for the District of Montana, remarked, "The theft of $174,000 hurt the children enrolled in Head Start by prohibiting the purchase of books, barring the ability to obtain teaching materials and cutting food nutrition programs for those who need it most. We will continue to ensure that federal funds are used for the needs of those intended, especially children."
A former IHS doctor was indicted on four Counts of Sexual abuse and four Counts of Abusive Sexual Contact involving four adult patients. The alleged abuse took place in 2017 and 2018 at the Wagner Indian Health Service Clinic in South Dakota.
A former IHS doctor was indicted for having a conflict of interest by prescribing a diabetes drug in exchange for kickbacks. The doctor allegedly prescribed a medication that was not on the IHS formulary and entered into a business arrangement with an outside pharmacy to sell the drug. Under the arrangement, the doctor, his wife and a person with whom he had been negotiating for future employment, would receive 80% of the profits from the sale of the drug. This arrangement resulted in a receipt of about $45,590.
After his September 2019 conviction in South Dakota for multiple sex offenses against children while serving as a pediatrician in the Indian Health Service, Stanley Patrick Weber was sentenced on 2/10/2020 to 5 consecutive life sentences in Federal prison for the five aggravated sexual abuse charges, and 15 years on each of the three counts of sexual abuse of a minor. Weber was also ordered to pay $800,000 in criminal fines and an $800 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. After the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons stated, "[n]ow, as one nation, one community, and one family, we must come together and do everything in our power to ensure that nothing like this can ever be done to any of our precious children again."
A former Northern Cheyenne Tribal President and Tribal Health Director who had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and false claims conspiracy for submitting fraudulent travel invoices to tribal, state and federal agencies, was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay restitution. At the sentencing the judge stated that the defendant, "exploited his positions as the tribe's health director and then as its president to steal funds intended to benefit tribal members and programs for his own personal enrichment." The case is part of the Guardians Project, a multi-agency anti-fraud task force in Montana.
Idaho company All Around Sports, LLC, its owner, and two supervisors were sentenced on November 18, 2019 following their guilty pleas of Wire Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud against the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The sales manager was sentenced to two years in prison while the other two defendants received sentences of home detention followed by probation. The company was sentenced to three years of probation and was ordered to pay a $42,000 fine. The owner, sales manager and company also were ordered to pay restitution to two Alaskan Native entities. The cases were brought pursuant to the South Dakota U.S. Attorney's Office's Guardians Project, a federal law enforcement initiative with coordinated efforts between participating agencies that investigates fraud involving federal program funds. The Oglala Sioux Tribe receives funding from the Indian Health Service.
Former Indian Health Service pediatrician found guilty by a federal jury of five counts of Aggravated Sexual Abuse and three counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor following a week-long jury trial in Rapid City, South Dakota. Evidence at trial established that Dr. Stanley Patrick Weber, while employed as a pediatrician with the Indian Health Service at Pine Ridge, sexually abused minors between 1999 and 2011.
A former Northern Cheyenne Tribal President and Tribal Health Director pleaded guilty to wire fraud and false claims conspiracy for submitting fraudulent travel invoices to tribal, state and federal agencies, including HHS. Prosecutors estimate that he received $20,000 in improper reimbursements.
Boise, Idaho based sports poster company, All Around Sports, LLC, pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud conspiracy charge involving the fraudulent transfer of funds from victim bank accounts located in South Dakota and Alaska. Additionally, the owner of All Around Sports, LLC pleaded guilty to wire fraud against the Oglala Sioux Tribe by unlawfully withdrawing $54,000 from the Tribe's bank account. The Tribe receives funding from the Indian Health Service.
Three former management employees of the Blackfeet Tribe's Head Start program were sentenced to prison and ordered to pay restitution for perpetrating a 15-month-long fraudulent overtime pay scheme. The theft of the Head Start funds resulted in the program not being able to purchase books and teaching materials. In addition, the program had to makes cuts in the children's nutrition program.
On 9/24/2018, five former Tribal Council members and tribal employees, who had been convicted of using health care funds from an IHS contract to pay themselves bonuses, were sentenced to 5 years' probation and ordered to pay restitution. Subsequently on 10/17/2018, a former Tribal Chairman and three former Council members. who had pled guilty to using health care funds to obtain bonuses, were also sentenced to 5 years' probation and restitution. In both instances, the funds used to pay bonuses were supposed to be used for providing health care to tribal members.
Two employees of the Blackfeet Tribe's Head Start Program pled guilty to stealing money by fraudulently claiming overtime. The tribe conducted an internal review and paid HHS for disallowed costs and other expenses.
Former IHS employee was convicted of making a false statement on a Confidential Financial Disclosure Report in connection with a $5,000 payment from Dr. Stanley Patrick Weber.
Former CFO of Rocky Boy Health Clinic sentenced for wire fraud in connection with issuing checks to herself from the clinic's employee loan programs.
Patient sentenced for a falsely alleging that an IHS physician engaged in sexual conduct against him.
The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation voluntary settled allegations of false Medicaid claims and agreed to a Voluntary Tribal Compliance Agreement with the HHS OIG.
Indictment of Stanley Patrick Weber related to charges of sexually abusing minors while employed by IHS.
A contractor working on the Rocky Boys Indian Reservation was convicted of Wire Fraud and Bribery for participating in a "pay to play" scheme whereby the contractor gave $50,000 to the tribal official after receiving a $200,000 progress payment of federal funds.
A patient of the Fort Thompson Indian Health Service Hospital was convicted of False Statement Relating to Health Care Matters after altering his prescription in order to increase the number of opioids for dispensing at the hospital's pharmacy.
Five tribal employees agreed to a civil False Claims Act settlement for taking federal funds from the Oglala Sioux Tribe's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and agreed to pay $84,000 in restitution. All five had previously been convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Theft of Federal Funds
(October 24, 2014; U.S. Attorney; District of South Dakota)
A Colstrip, Montana, man convicted of Health Care Fraud was sentenced on October 16, 2014. Dean L. Hodges, age 59, was sentenced to 2 years of probation, ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and restitution in the amount of $686.
Read the Full News Release
(October 16, 2014; U.S. Attorney; District of South Dakota)
A Rapid City, South Dakota, man convicted of Theft or Embezzlement in Connection with Health Care was sentenced on October 16, 2014. Michael Gray, age 59, was sentenced to 2 years of probation, ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and restitution in the amount of $6,476.42.
Read the Full News Release
(July 24, 2014; U.S. Attorney; District of South Dakota)
Four individuals convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Theft Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds or Theft Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds have been sentenced. Gerald T. Roy, Special Agent in Charge, Health and Human Services/Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Kansas City, MO, stated, "Individuals who choose to misappropriate HHS funds intended for those in dire need will continue to be pursued by the OIG and their law enforcement partners."
Read the Full News Release
Former Blackfeet Po'Ka Project Officials Sentenced For Massive Grant Fraud HHS Inspector General Claims $4.6 Million In Potential Fraud
(June 24, 2014; U.S. Attorney; District of Montana)
Former officials of the Blackfeet Tribe's Po'Ka Project, a multi-million dollar federally funded effort to address the needs of troubled youth on the reservation, were sentenced in federal court in Great Falls, MO.
Read the Full News Release
(April 30, 2013; U.S. Attorney; Northern District of California)
The California Rural Indian Health Board Inc. (CRIHB), a nontribal entity and grantee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), agreed to pay the United States $532,000, and to be terminated from an existing SAMHSA grant, thereby relinquishing funds valued at over $4.6 million. In addition, CRIHB will be subject to certain administrative conditions imposed by SAMHSA, and will not be eligible to apply for any new SAMHSA funding opportunities for two federal fiscal years.
Read the Full News Release