NEW YORK – The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California said this week that the owners of mobile phlebotomy company PhlebXpress have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit over $7 million in healthcare fraud.
According to court documents, between Dec. 1, 2015, and Dec. 1, 2020, Gabriella Santibanez, 58, and her sister Lisa Hazard, 54, both of Temecula, California, billed Medicare for services not reimbursed by Medicare, and in their bills they overstated the mileage traveled by their company's phlebotomists. On average, they falsely billed Medicare for more than 140 miles of travel for each patient seen and caused a loss to Medicare of at least $7.5 million, according to the US Department of Justice.
In November 2020, Medicare suspended payments to PhlebXpress due to suspected fraud. Santibanez and Hazard circumvented this suspension by claiming services done by PhlebXpress were being done by a different company, Phlebotomy Solutions.
Santibanez and Hazard are scheduled to be sentenced on May 1. Each faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.