A Bisbee woman is facing 55 felony charges and a multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit accusing her of scamming more than $3 million from Medicare by filing bogus claims for wheelchairs, ventilators and other medical devices, court records show.
Frances Jones, owner-operator of Oxicheck, a Bisbee-based medical equipment supplier, was recently indicted by a federal grand jury on 12 counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of health-care fraud and 42 counts of making false statements about health matters.
Jones, 49, a Bisbee native who also has an address in Chandler, has pleaded not guilty.
If convicted, she faces the possibility of federal prison time. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years behind bars.
The federal Justice Department is prosecuting Jones in Tucson on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The alleged fraud occurred over a five-year period from 2013 to 2018, the criminal complaint said. The related civil lawsuit said Medicare’s losses were “in excess of $3.2 million.”
Jones’ defense attorney, Jordan Malka, couldn’t be reached for comment. He didn’t respond to two requests sent to his office email over a two-day period.
Federal prosecutors say Jones created fake claims by using the identities of doctors and patients with whom she’d done business in the past.
The bogus billings were for medical devices that doctors didn’t order, patients didn’t request and she didn’t deliver, the indictment said.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the alleged fraud came to light, or why it took several years to detect.
Don White, a spokesman for the federal health department’s Office of Inspector General, which investigates Medicare fraud, declined to answer questions about the Jones case and said the investigation is “open and ongoing.”
Federal lawyers filed the civil lawsuit against Jones the same day as the criminal case in an effort to recover Medicare’s alleged losses.
A judge in the civil case has issued a temporary restraining order that prevents Jones from disposing of financial assets. Federal lawyers sought the order claiming Jones was draining her bank accounts and using ill-gotten gains to buy cryptocurrency and pay for property such as personal vehicles.
Jones is a 1987 graduate of Bisbee High School, according to the Facebook page for her business. She was arrested in Chandler in April.
It’s at least the second time this year federal prosecutors have taken aim at a Southern Arizona business accused of Medicare fraud.
Operators of a Tucson-based home health firm, Ascension In-Home Medical Care Nurse Practitioner’s Group Inc., were indicted in January on 47 criminal counts related to bogus billings.
The operators, Elvia Lorena Lamont and Stephen Allen Lamont, have pleaded not guilty and are tentatively scheduled for trial in July.