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updated: 3/6/2018 10:00 PM

Chicago-area woman sentenced in cash-for-patients scheme

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CHICAGO -- An 81-year-old suburban Chicago woman has been sentenced to 18 months in prison in a cash-for-patients kickback scheme in which she allegedly spent most of the illegal proceeds at area casinos.

A Tuesday statement from Chicago's U.S. attorney's office says Norma De la Cruz of Glenview paid recruiters $500 to $600 for each Medicare patient referred to her company, TLC Healthcare Services of Illinois Inc. It says her company defrauded Medicare out of more than $390,000 between 2012 and 2014.

Prosecutors say de la Cruz incurred around $245,000 in gambling losses around the time of the scheme and added another $76,000 in losses after being charged.

De la Cruz pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to offer and pay unlawful kickbacks. She was sentenced in Chicago federal court on Monday.

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