Halo Home Healthcare overbilled federal health care programs, charging them for services it did not perform

CINCINNATI, Ohio—Sharon Romaine Ward, 52, formerly of West Chester, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to fraudulently billing more than $8.5 million to Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Affairs home health care programs between 2015 and 2021.

Ward admitted that, when she started Halo Home Healthcare in 2015, she concealed her ownership of the company because she had a prior felony conviction in 2013 for passing forged and fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone while serving as a nurse practitioner in Warren County. The conviction made her ineligible to participate in federal health care programs for ten years.

According to court documents, Halo Home Healthcare routinely overbilled federal health care programs, charging them for services it did not perform. In one example cited in court documents Halo continued to bill Medicaid for home health services while the patient was hospitalized. In addition, between 2017 and 2020, Halo hired over 50 employees with significant criminal histories which ordinarily should have excluded them from providing home health services, including one individual who was charged with a quadruple murder while ostensibly working for Halo.

Ward submitted at least 92,770 claims to Medicaid seeking $8,556,776.58, receiving $8,403,299.24 between 2016 and 2021. Court documents say she also failed to provide accurate information to her business tax return preparer causing false tax returns to be prepared and filed.

Ward pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud and one count of making a false income tax return. Health care fraud is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Filing a false income tax return is punishable by up to three years in prison. Terms of the plea agreement include a recommendation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the prison term does not exceed five years for the health care fraud. The court will determine an appropriate sentence under federal sentencing guidelines.

The agreement also calls for Ward to pay restitution to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Ohio Department of Medicaid in an amount to be determined at sentencing. Ward also agreed to prepare and file corrected business tax returns with the IRS and pay restitution, plus any interest and penalties. The IRS determined a tax loss of $81,617.