New Orleans woman gets 6 years for Medicare fraud, must repay millions

A New Orleans businesswoman convicted in a massive Medicare fraud scheme was sentenced Thursday to more than six years in prison and was ordered to pay back more than $16 million.

Lisa Crinel, 52, a former queen of the Zulu parade in the Big Easy, ran a company called Abide Home Care Services. The company also was ordered to repay more than $16 million, making the total repayment more than $32 million.

Crinel, a former queen of the Zulu parade in New Orleans, had pleaded guilty in October 2015 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks.

Prosecutors said Crinel instructed Abide not to discharge patients, even when they did not require home health services, and directed the company to routinely file false diagnoses and medical records to inflate Medicare reimbursements.

The scam started in 2008 and ran for eight years, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Numerous medical professionals were involved, including four doctors and Sheila Mathieu, a nurse who is the mother of an NFL football player, the newspaper reported.

Besides Crinel and the company, 19 other defendants were charged in connection with the case.

In August, Mathieu was sentenced to one year of probation for aiding and abetting the scheme, and was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and $875 in restitution. Two other nurses also were sentenced for their roles.

The doctors were identified as Shelton Barnes, Henry Evans, Gregory Molden and Michael Jones. They were awaiting sentencing, the Times-Picayune reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.