Woman pleads guilty to fraud

A Costa Mesa woman faces up to 20 years in prison when she’s scheduled to be sentenced in April for participating in the largest medical insurance fraud in the nation’s history, prosecutors said Friday.

Sue Nanda, 40, pleaded guilty Friday to felony counts of conspiracy, recruiting patients for fraudulent surgeries, failing to file tax returns, filing fraudulent tax returns and grand theft with an enhancement for white-collar crime. Nanda is one of nearly 20 defendants charged with bilking $154 million from medical insurance companies in California by performing surgeries on people for ailments they didn’t have.

Nanda is accused of being a “capper,” or recruiter who personally contacted more than 170 people from 16 states. Prosecutors said she arranged for “patients” to travel to the Unity Outpatient Surgery Center in Buena Park, schedule their surgeries and help coach them on what to say to professionals and how to fill out the paper work.

Patients were paid between $300 and $1,000 or offered discounted cosmetic surgery for their help.

Nanda was named in a 70-page Orange County Grand Jury indictment unsealed last summer following a three-month hearing with more than 50 witnesses.

In one nine-month period, insurance companies paid more than $20 million.

The lead perpetrator in the scheme, Tam Vu Pham, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison last year.

Reporter JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at joseph.serna@latimes.com.

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