The CEO of a Texas-based group of hospice and home health entities was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for falsely telling thousands of patients with long-term incurable diseases they had less than six months to live. His rationale was to enroll the patients in hospice programs for which they were otherwise unqualified, thereby increasing revenue to the company, the Department of Justice said in a Wednesday news release.

Henry McInnis, 50, of Harlingen, Texas was convicted in November 2019 of one count each of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruction of justice, as well as six counts of health care fraud. McInnis’s co-conspirator, Rodney Mesquias, 50, the owner of the hospice and home health entities, was sentenced to 240 months in prison in December 2020. Two other co-conspirators have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

“McInnis, as CEO of the company, directly oversaw a reprehensible criminal scheme that involved the submission of over $150 million in fraudulent bills, the falsification of patients’ medical records, and the payment of unlawful kickbacks,” Acting Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said.

From 2009 to 2018, McInnis, Mesquias and others submitted over $150 million in false and fraudulent claims for hospice and other healthcare services. McInnis served as the top corporate officer and administrator and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Merida Group, a large healthcare company that operated dozens of locations throughout Texas. 

While he had no medical training and worked previously as an electrician, McInnis acted as the de facto director of nursing for the Merida Group. McInnis allegedly directed employees to admit unqualified patients to hospice and home health, keep unqualified patients on services for long periods of time, and fired and reprimanded employees who refused to participate in the scheme, the DOJ said.

McInnis also oversaw and enforced a company-wide practice of falsifying medical records to conceal the scheme. McInnis allegedly ordered employees to alter medical records to make it appear patients were terminally ill. In reality, some were employed or even participating in sporting events, according to the DOJ.