Former lab owner sentenced in connection with $1.6 million Medicaid kickback conspiracy

 

Date: July 13, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Pittsburgh, Pa. – A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in federal court today for one count of conspiracy to pay unlawful kickbacks, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced.

United States District Judge David S. Cercone sentenced William Hughes to sixty days' incarceration, followed by twelve months of home detention. Hughes was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, forfeit more than $750,000 in previously seized assets, and make restitution totaling $1,670,469.77 to the Kentucky Medicaid Program.

During the defendant's plea hearing on June 18, 2020, Hughes admitted that he owned and operated Universal Oral Fluid Labs (UOFL), a clinical drug testing laboratory located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. From October 2011 to August 2013, Hughes further admitted that he entered into an unlawful kickbacks-for-referrals arrangement, through UOFL, with his co-defendant, Dr. Varanise Booker, a physician practicing in Kentucky. Pursuant to this arrangement, Hughes agreed to pay Booker to refer patients to UOFL—including patients who were covered under the Kentucky Medicaid Program—for drug testing services in exchange for cash payments. Between September 2012 and August 2013, UOFL obtained $1,670,469.77 from the Kentucky Medicaid Program based on these illegal referrals. In turn, Hughes, through UOFL, caused Booker to be paid a total of $843,242.31 in kickbacks for her drug testing referrals.

Booker has pleaded not guilty, and her case remains pending before Judge Cercone.

The Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Hughes.