United States v. Armenta, No. 17-2296 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Armenta worked at Passages as a certified nursing assistant and later as a regional director of certified nursing assistants. Passages billed its services to Medicare. Medicare paid $180 per patient per day for routine services but up to $700 for general inpatient services (GIP). Passages began paying directors based on the number of patients on GIP. The number of patients on GIP significantly increased because directors instructed nurses and nursing assistants to place patients who did not need that level of care on GIP. Passages received an audit request from a Medicare contractor. In response, Armenta and other Passages employees entered false information consistent with GIP care and billing into patient files, then submitted the altered files. Passages employees, including Armenta, were trained on the requirements for placing a patient on GIP. Armenta told the nurses to disregard the training. Armenta and others were charged with health care fraud. Only Armenta proceeded to trial. With a two-level enhancement for obstruction of justice based on lying on the stand and altering records, her Guidelines imprisonment range was 63-78 months.The Seventh Circuit affirmed her conviction and sentence of 20 months’ imprisonment plus $1.67 million in restitution. Although no government witness identified Armenta in court, the defense did not argue that the Armenta in the courtroom was not the same Armenta involved in the fraud.