CHICAGO (CBS) — The owner of a south suburban telemarketing company has been sentenced to one year in federal prison for taking kickbacks in exchange for referring companies to home health care agencies.

Sundae Williams, 47, was convicted in August 2016 after a five-day jury trial of one count of conspiracy to solicit and receive remuneration in return for the referral of Medicare patients, and six counts of soliciting and receiving remuneration in return for referral of Medicare patients, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Williams was the owner of Serenity Marketing Inc., a telemarketing company based in Homewood.

She used unsolicited phone calls to recruit patients, including Medicare beneficiaries, for home health care services, prosecutors said. She then referred those patients to several Chicago-area nursing agencies in exchange for payments on a per-patient basis.

“For at least four years, defendant Sundae Williams helped fuel a system in which skilled nursing agencies and doctors defrauded Medicare by billing for unnecessary services that Medicare beneficiaries did not need or qualify for,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Chahn Lee argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Defendant’s offense here is serious because it led to the kinds of waste and fraud that the Anti-Kickback Statute was designed to prevent.”

U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. handed down the sentence of 12 months and one day on Wednesday. Williams was also ordered for forfeit $599,000.

Williams is one of several defendants convicted in a federal investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a joint initiative by the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and has been operating in Chicago since 2011.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2016. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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