A California woman has pleaded guilty to a $359 million fraudulent testing scheme.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Lourdes Navarro submitted $359 million in claims during the COVID-19 pandemic for expensive and medically unnecessary respiratory pathogen panel tests to Medicare, the Health Resources and Services Administration COVID-19 Uninsured Program, and a private health insurance company.
According to court documents, between June 2020 and April 2022, Navarro and her co-conspirator Imran Shams obtained nasal swab specimens from residents and staff at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and rehabilitation facilities, as well as from students and staff at primary and secondary schools, with the claimed purpose of COVID-19 infection screening. Navarro and Shams subsequently ran the unnecessary respiratory tests on these specimens at the Matias Clinical Laboratory, dba Health Care Providers Laboratory, where Navarro was a manager. The pair then submitted claims in the amount of $359 million for the unnecessary testing; they received approximately $54 million in reimbursements.
Navarro has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced on January 23, 2024. Shams previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 9, 2024.