File under Appearances Can Be Deceiving: A Chicago-area couple whose 5,000-square-foot home came complete with a bevvy of luxury SUVs built their empire "on a lie," reports the Chicago Tribune. Richard and Maribel Tinimbang, 38 and 40, are being charged with various counts of conspiracy, paying kickbacks, money laundering, and even forced labor that was all part of an elaborate $45 million Medicare scam, per a Department of Justice press release. The federal indictment filed last week charges that the Tinimbangs used their home health care business "Patients First" to put themselves first and even forced a woman into indentured servitude. An arraignment date hasn't yet been set.
The husband and wife are accused of using three home healthcare companies owned by Richard's mother, Josephine Tinimbang, to pay bribes and kickbacks to get Medicare beneficiaries between 2008 and 2014, and of both ignoring doctors who wouldn't certify beneficiaries as needing home health care as well as falsifying records to make patients appear sicker than they were. The DOJ estimates a resulting $45 million hit to Medicare, which afforded the couple their house, vehicles, jewelry, and stock shares. Meanwhile, they allegedly brought a Filipino woman they said would be a business analyst back to the States and paid her $66 a day to serve as their nanny and housekeeper, all while threatening to charge her $25,000 in damages should she leave before seven years were up. Several law enforcement agencies worked together on both the fraud and human trafficking aspects of the case, including the FBI and Department of Health and Human Services. (Check out the enormity of this Medicare fraud bust.)