CEO Sentenced to 15 Years for Operating $150M Health Care Fraud Scheme

Henry McInnis, CEO of the Merida Group, a Texas-based group of hospice and home health provider entities, was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 years in prison for convincing patients with long-term illnesses to enroll in hospice programs run by his company by falsely telling them that they had less than six months to live, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ news release states that McInnis and co-conspirators operated a scheme that submitted more than $150 million worth of false and fraudulent hospice and health care service claims. While McInnis had no medical background, he worked as “the de facto director of nursing” for the group and “directed employees to admit unqualified patients to hospice and home health, keep unqualified patients on services for long periods of time and fired and reprimanded employees who refused to participate in the scheme,” according to trial witnesses.

Additionally, McInnis was in charge of falsifying the medical records in order to keep the scheme under wraps, the release states, and he implemented a system to pay kickbacks to physicians in order to confirm hospice and home health programs for patients who normally would be unqualified for such services.

McInnis was convicted in November 2019 of one count each of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and obstruction of justice, along with six counts of health care fraud. Co-conspirator Rodney Mesquias was also convicted at that time and was sentenced to 240 months in prison, while two more co-conspirators are awaiting sentencing.

“McInnis, as CEO of the company, directly oversaw a reprehensible criminal scheme that involved the submission of over $150 million in fraudulent bills, the falsification of patients’ medical records, and the payment of unlawful kickbacks,” Acting Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said. “McInnis preyed upon some of the most vulnerable members of our society, including many who suffered from diminished mental capacity and who were falsely and cruelly told by co-conspirators that they had only months to live. Today’s significant sentence demonstrates the department’s continued commitment to pursuing individuals, at all levels of corporate management, who engage in criminal schemes that prioritize profits over patient care.”