Alabama man sentenced to prison for role in health care fraud conspiracy

Published 6:38 am Tuesday, March 14, 2023

A federal judge has sentenced another Alabama resident charged in a series of related cases involving multi-million-dollar health care fraud conspiracies, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Tamala E. Miles.

Last Friday, Chief United States District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced John Hornbuckle, 53, of New Hope, Alabama, to 80 months in prison. In November 2022, Hornbuckle pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to receive kickbacks.

Between 2012 and 2018, Hornbuckle owned QBR. According to the plea agreement in Hornbuckle’s case, QBR billed insurers millions of dollars for electro-diagnostic testing that its technicians performed, regardless of whether there was a medical need for them.

Hornbuckle caused QBR to pay medical providers a per-patient fee for the tests they ordered from QBR that were reimbursed by insurers, including Medicare and other government health care programs. The payments were disguised as hourly payments for the provider’s time and the time of the provider’s staff, but the provider was actually paid a fee per patient who received a test. Insurance programs paid more than nine million dollars for the medically unnecessary tests that QBR paid doctors to order.

Hornbuckle was also ordered to pay $9,192,005.20 in restitution, a fine of $250,000, and forfeiture of $176,449.19.

The case against Hornbuckle is related to several other cases that have resulted in convictions in the last year. Dr. Mark Murphy, 66, and his wife Jennifer Murphy, 66, both of Lewisburg, Tennessee, were sentenced last week. Brian Bowman, 41, of Gadsden, Alabama, has pleaded guilty to health care fraud conspiracy.

According to Bowman’s plea agreement, Bowman marketed QBR’s electro-diagnostic testing to medical providers, and was paid a fee for each test they ordered. Bowman received nearly a million dollars in fees from QBR. James Ewing Ray, 52, of Gadsden, has pleaded guilty to health care fraud and kickback conspiracy for his role as a sales rep who marketed QBR’s scheme to medical practices and received kickbacks per test ordered.

John Alan Robson, 40, of Trussville, was indicted last month on charges of health care fraud conspiracy, kickback conspiracy, and kickbacks. According to his indictment, Robson was a sales rep who marketed to doctors’ offices various health care products and services, including prescription drugs from specialty pharmacies, durable medical equipment (DME), and electro-diagnostic testing. Robson was paid fees for the prescriptions, DME, and tests he generated from doctors.

Brian Bowman and James Ray are awaiting sentencing.