A Los Angeles nurse has agreed to pay $33.8 million to settle federal charges that she defrauded Medicare and filed false tax returns to conceal her proceeds, federal prosecutors announced.Lourdes Perez, 53, pleaded guilty to the fraud charges in October 2004 as part of a deal. Perez owned two of California's largest home healthcare companies -- Provident Home Health Care Services Inc. in Eagle Rock and Tri-Regional Home Health Care Inc. in San Dimas -- which collectively billed Medicare about $80 million annually.

According to her plea, Perez billed Medicare for patients who were not homebound and for services her companies did not perform, creating false medical records to support the claims. A second nurse involved in the scheme, Margaret Tan, pleaded guilty to fraud charges last week.

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