DALLAS (AP) — A former hospice nursing supervisor in North Texas has pleaded guilty to her role in a $60 million health care fraud scheme that prosecutors allege involved overdosing patients for profit.
Jessica Love pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud as part of an agreement filed Monday. Love worked as a registered nurse case manager and regional director for Frisco-based Novus Health Services, which shut down several years ago amid the federal investigation.
Court documents show Love participated in the overmedication of two patients, who died from the high dosages. She’s facing up to 10 years in prison.
Love is expected to testify against Novus’ owner, Bradley Harris, and others charged in the FBI investigation. Court documents outline a scheme to admit as many patients into hospice care as possible and provide around-the-clock care, which Medicare would pay at a higher rate than it would for routine care.
Hospice owners lose money if they have to provide patients with “continuous care” for too long.
Love said Harris, an accountant with no medical training, gave orders about patient care, including drug dosage amounts and when they should die.
“These directions included Bradley Harris’ instructing nurses to intentionally overmedicate beneficiaries with medications such as hydromorphone and morphine with the intent to hasten their deaths,” Love said. “Harris ordered these increase in medication because he wanted the beneficiaries to die.”
Love’s admission also includes text messages between her and another nurse. In the messages, Love ordered the nurse to turn off a patient’s oxygen, increase Ativan and morphine and roll the patient onto their left side. Love texted that the technique “works like a little charm.”
The patient died within five hours, according to court documents.
Love is the second person to plead guilty in the case. Former Novus operations director Melanie Murphey pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud last month.
The federal trial for the other defendants is scheduled for January. Love’s sentencing date hasn’t been set.