Northern District of California | Bay Area doctor convicted of health care fraud and referral kickback scheme for Medicare-funded home health services

SAN FRANCISCO – Henry Geoffrey Watson, a physician living in Oakland, California, was convicted today by a federal jury on charges including accepting kickbacks for referring patients to home health agencies, health care fraud, and related crimes. False Statements Related to Health Care Matters U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Colthurst, FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp, and U.S. Health & Human Announcement of Service by Steven J. Ryan, Special Agent in Charge, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG).

The jury found that Watson, 67, used his position as a practicing physician to participate in three medical kickback schemes between 2013 and 2019. The first scheme involved a conspiracy in which Watson agreed to refer patients to Amity Home Health Care in exchange for illegal kickbacks. Evidence at trial established that Watson and Amity employees and its CEO, Amanda Singh, conspired to pay Watson periodic amounts, sometimes in the form of monthly cash payments of $3,000, to ensure that Watson would Refer Medicare patients to Amity.

The Anti-Kickback Statute 1320a-7b of Chapter 42 of the United States Code makes it a crime for any person to knowingly solicit, offer, or pay a kickback, bribe, or kickback for services provided under a federal health care program, including Medicare.

In the second scheme proven at trial, Watson accepted kickbacks from an undercover FBI agent posing as a home health agency representative to seek Watson’s consent to refer his patients to specific Bay Area home health agencies. Evidence at the trial included videos of Watson accepting envelopes of cash, totaling more than $10,000, at four meetings in 2017. The jury heard evidence that Watson also recommended other doctors who he believed were willing to accept illegal referral fees. From an undercover agent.

The third scheme proven at trial involved a conspiracy between Watson and others to repeatedly and falsely demonstrate that Medicare-funded home health services were available to individuals who did not seek or need those services. Evidence at trial showed that Watson and co-conspirators arranged for Watson to briefly meet with a large number of unsuspecting elderly residents at Bay Area nursing homes. After these meetings, held in common areas or recreation rooms, Watson testified that every resident he met stayed at home, meaning they were often unable to leave their homes. In fact, based on the evidence and the jury’s verdict, Watson knew the patient was not home and did not need the services he prescribed. Watson did not perform any tests or ask if they were home, but he still made fraudulent referrals to three home health agencies, according to trial evidence. Testimony from those individuals and their regular primary care physicians during the time that Watson repeatedly testified that certain individuals were in the home indicated that the individuals were generally healthy and active, engaging in activities such as international travel, shopping, taking stairs and jogging. The evidence proved that Watson billed Medicare false payments to certify the home health status of these individuals and oversee their home health care, despite the fact that these individuals did not need such care. As part of the conspiracy, co-conspirators working for three home health agencies paid Watson illegal kickbacks of $100 per patient referred.

“Violations of the anti-kickback statute deprive patients of choice and the opportunity to have a physician who is committed to providing them with the best care,” said HHS-OIG Administrator Steven J. Ryan. This harms patients.” Kickbacks can also result in Medicare being billed for unnecessary medical services, which can impact the availability of services and increase health care costs for everyone. Individuals and entities participating in the federal health care system must comply with laws designed to maintain the integrity of these programs. “

The criminal charges against Watson were unsealed on September 5, 2019, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced criminal charges against 30 defendants, alleging they participated in a wide-ranging patient-exchange kickback scheme. The charges included criminal kickback charges against Amity Home Health Care, then the largest home health care provider in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Advent Care, a hospice provider. In the investigation that led to Watson’s charges and conviction, other individuals and doctors were also found guilty of illegal kickbacks:

• Amity CEO Ridhima Amanda Singh pleaded guilty on August 5, 2022, in Court Case No. 22-CR-267 CRB, to charges of conspiring to pay kickbacks for Medicare beneficiary referrals.
• Dr. Bhupinder Bhandari pleaded guilty on June 6, 2022 in Court Case No. 20-CR-374 JD to violating the Anti-Kickback Law.
• Dr. Zheng Zhang pleaded guilty to violating the Anti-Kickback Law on April 25, 2022, in Court Case No. 22-CR-090 VC.
• Dr. Gerald Myint pleaded guilty to violating the Anti-Kickback Statute on November 18, 2020 in Court Case No. 20-CR-408 CRB.
• Dr. Juan Posada pleaded guilty to violating the Anti-Kickback Statute on January 27, 2021 in Court Case No. 20-CR-420 RS.

All of these defendants have been sentenced by the judges assigned to the cases.

A federal grand jury indicted Watson in a superseding indictment on March 9, 2021, which included the following counts, with the following maximum penalties:




maximum penalty per count


18 USC Article 371

Conspiracy to pay and receive medical kickbacks

5 years in prison

$250,000 fine


42 U.S.C. 1320a-7b(b)(1)(A)

anti-kickback statute

10 years in prison

$100,000 fine


18 USC Article 1347

health care fraud

10 years in prison

$250,000 fine


18 USC Section 1035

Misrepresentations related to health care matters

5 years in prison

$250,000 fine

Watson remains out on bail pending sentencing. Watson’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 28, 2024, in San Francisco before Judge Breyer. The court will determine any sentence after considering the United States Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing sentencing, 18 USC § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristina Green and Katherine Lloyd-Lovett and the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Corporate and Securities Fraud Section are prosecuting Helen Yee and Lawrence Ma The case was prosecuted with the assistance of Laurence Macaraeg. This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and HHS-OIG.

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