Doctor sentenced for role in Medicare scheme

HOUSTON (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a physician to more than five years in prison for participating in a Medicare fraud scheme that pulled in more than $20 million from false claims.

Authorities say 63-year-old Ben Harris Echols of Houston also was ordered Friday to pay restitution of $2.9 million. He was convicted in December of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and six counts of false statements relating to health care matters.

Echols approved plans for medical care so that fraudulent claims could be billed by two home health care companies. He also signed treatment plans for Medicare beneficiaries not under his care.

Authorities say he conspired with the health care companies for payouts of $17.3 million, and with other beneficiaries for additional claims of $5.5 million.

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