Grand jury indicts six for fraud

Monday, September 30, 2002

TOPEKA, Kan. - A federal grand jury indicted six individuals Aug. 14 on charges that they conspired to defraud Medicare, Medicare beneficiaries and Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare Corp. The three who were named publicly by the U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas are Terrence Cooper, 34, of Overland Park, Kan., Paige A. Heck, 60, of Lawrence, Kan., and her son, Frank D. Heck, 38, of Shawnee, Kan.

The indictment charged that Cooper and the Hecks, along with others who were owners, officers and operators of several now-defunct companies, defrauded Medicare of more than $642,000 by upcoding their reimbursement claims. They allegedly sold power wheelchairs and seat cushions to Medicare beneficiaries, but billed Medicare for more expensive versions than those that were actually provided.

The indictment further alleged that as part of this conspiracy, which ran from January 1996 through December 1998, the accused individuals placed ads in newspapers for a "Senior Wheels Program," providing a toll-free number for people to call for "mobility needs assessment" in regard to wheelchairs, scooters and walkers.

Moreover, the grand jury alleged that Cooper, Paige Heck and Frank Heck devised and executed a scheme to defraud Invacare from fall 1997 through October 1998. According to the indictment, the three people induced Invacare to provide products on credit despite knowing that they would use Medicare proceeds from the sale of those products not to repay Invacare but instead to fund a health club business, Total Body & Fitness, in Olathe, Kan.

Cooper, Frank Heck and Paige Heck are charged with one count of conspiracy, 12 counts of health care fraud, two counts of wire fraud and 14 counts of money laundering. If convicted, each faces a maximum of five years in federal prison, without parole, for conspiracy and wire fraud, and a maximum of 10 years for health care fraud and money laundering.

The owners of a currently active business called Senior Wheels USA - which also places articles and ads in various newspaper regarding wheelchair sales - will neither confirm nor deny for HME News whether they have any connection to the alleged conspirators or to the Senior Wheels Program cited in the indictment. HME