The owner and operator of a halfway house in Fort Lauderdale is facing up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. He has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in Miami federal court. The man was accused of sending the residents of his halfway house to American Therapeutic Corp. and the American Sleep Institute for fake sleep treatments. He would receive a kickback for the patients he sent and those companies would bill Medicare for treatments that were unnecessary or were not even administered.

The payments made to facilitators, such as this man, varied from straight kickbacks to a percentage of the money made on each referral. While many of the people charged in the ATC matter were directly related to the company, including three doctors as well as the owners of the business, several related businesses have also come under scrutiny for their roles in making the Medicare fraud scheme possible.

Federal prosecutors have obtained numerous guilty pleas and convictions in relation to ATC and its business practices. The case has contributed to South Florida’s reputation as the health care fraud capital of the United States. Countless other businesses and individuals in the area have been investigated as part of this administration’s crackdown on Medicare fraud. The parties to the ATC fraud case who do not plead guilty are scheduled to go to trial on April 19.

A person accused of Medicare fraud faces stiff penalties. Prosecuting attorneys have extensive experience and virtually unlimited resources they can use to obtain a guilty verdict. For those facing charges, the situation could not be more serious.

Source: Sun Sentinel, “Halfway house owner pleads guilty to kickback fraud,” by Paula McMahon, 9 January 2012

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