A Georgia-based nurse practitioner (NP) was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1.6 million in restitution for her role in a massive telemedicine fraud scheme.
In addition to the prison time, Sherley L. Beaufils, 44, will be required to serve an additional 3 years of supervised release, according to federal officials.
The Conyers, Georgia, NP was convicted in February of five counts each of healthcare fraud, false statements related to healthcare, aggravated identity theft, and taking part in a conspiracy.
Beaufils was a part of a complex scheme that involved stealing the identities of people as well as filing fraudulent claims, according to federal officials. Her co-conspirators captured the identities of senior citizens through a telemarketing scheme, then bundled the information as “leads.”
Beaufils signed her name to fake medical records in which she falsely claimed to have conducted examinations of those patients. Officials claim she then created orders for orthotic braces (for patients she never met or spoke with, including orders for a knee brace for an amputee and a back brace for a recently deceased patient) and other durable medical equipment in exchange for money. Beaufils’ fraudulent orders were then sold to companies that would generate reimbursement from Medicare.
According to court records, the nurse practitioner facilitated orders for more than 3000 orthotic braces, orders which generated more than $3 million in fraudulent or excessive charges to Medicare.
In addition to defrauding the government and taxpayers, Beaufils and the other co-conspirators took advantage of older adults, said prosecutors. “She targeted the elderly and medically vulnerable with her schemes, and is now being held accountable,” David H. Estes, US Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said in a statement announcing Beaufils’ sentencing.
“Sherley Beaufils let greed take the wheel when she raked in massive profits by ordering unnecessary medical devices for patients she never examined or spoke to,” he added.
According to Georgia’s professional licensing division, Beaufils obtained her NP license in 2007 and became board certified in 2016. Her license is due to expire in January 2024.
Avery Hurt is a Birmingham, Alabama-based freelance science writer who writes often about the science and practice of medicine.
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