© St. Petersburg Times, published December 28, 2001
TAMPA -- The owner of a St. Petersburg medical supplies company has agreed to pay $690,000 for scamming Medicare.
Federal prosecutors filed a civil complaint against Dennis McEleny and his company, Priority Oxygen and Medical Equipment at 5639 Park St. N, for a scheme that involved billing Medicare for motorized wheelchairs when the company actually sold less expensive motorized scooters.
In court documents filed Wednesday, McEleny and the prosecutors agreed to settle the complaint if the company pays the $690,000.
"These claims . . . were false and fraudulent because they sought reimbursement for durable medical equipment expenses that were not incurred; were not reimbursable; and/or were not delivered," the complaint stated.
McEleny could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In March 1998, the company contracted with a group of independent sales representatives to increase the company's Medicare sales and income from motorized wheelchairs. From March through October 1998, the company submitted more than 100 claims for reimbursement for selling the wheelchairs, court documents stated. Many of the buyers received much cheaper motorized scooters.
To pull off the fraud, the company filled out false paperwork to submit to Medicare for payment for expensive wheelchairs -- knowing that the buyers qualified only for the cheaper scooters.
The company forged signatures of physicians who allegedly prescribed the wheelchairs, according to court documents.