Canon Healthcare Owner Receives Prison Sentence, $42 Million Fine in Fraud Case

After three years of investigation, a federal court in Louisiana has sentenced the former owner of Canon Healthcare, Shiva Akula, to serve 240 months in prison for his involvement in health care fraud.

The court also ordered Akula to repay $42 million in fraudulent Medicare billing claims made between January 2013 and December 2019, which totaled roughly $84 million during that six-year span.

The charges included fraudulent claims for physician services and home visits, as well as manipulation of Medicare billing codes.


“Today’s sentencing signals the end of a long, complicated, and challenging prosecution,” U.S. Attorney Duane Evans said in a statement. “However, this conclusion exhibits our commitment to fighting health care fraud in our district. Our office, along with our investigative partners, will continue to work diligently to preserve taxpayer confidence in our medical institutions and seek justice for all victims of fraud.”

Canon Healthcare was a New Orleans-based hospice provider that also served the Baton Rouge and Covington, Louisiana, markets, as well as parts of Mississippi.

A federal jury last November convicted Akula on 23 counts of False Claims violations reaching nearly $47 million between 2013 and 2016, with the company billing Medicare for $62 million total. The violations included fraudulent charges related to general inpatient hospice (GIP) services that were not provided and multiple counts of medically unnecessary procedures.


Akula, 68, was initially indicted in the fall of 2021 on the charges, which alleged that Canon routinely billed Medicare for physician services for patients who were admitted into GIP and stayed for longer than 24 hours. The company allegedly filed claims using billing codes that are only appropriate when a patient is admitted to an inpatient hospital for a minimum of eight hours, but less than 24 hours and discharged on the same calendar day.

“Each fraudulent claim filed by Mr. Akula potentially deprived another deserving and suffering individual from the emotional and physical comfort of end-of-life care,” said Lyonel Myrthil, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI New Orleans Division, in a statement. “The FBI thanks its partners the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District, HHS and Louisiana’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for their painstaking work to ensure that justice would be done in this case.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the Louisiana Department of Justice, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Prosecutors included Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn McHugh of the Financial Crimes Unit and J. Ryan McLaren of the Appellate Unit, with assistance from Financial Litigation Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Churita Hansell of the Monetary Penalty and Recovery Unit.

“Shiva Akula showed no regard for quality end-of-life hospice care,” said Jason Meadows, Special Agent in Charge at HHS-OIG. “Instead, Akula’s motivation centered around multiple fraud schemes to maximize profit and steal from American taxpayers. HHS-OIG will continue to work with our federal and state law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold accountable those who steal from Medicare and other federal health care programs.”

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