Community Health Center Program Coordinator Sentenced to 70 Months for Role in $63 Million Fraud Scheme
WASHINGTON—A former program coordinator at the defunct health provider Health Care Solutions Network Inc. (HCSN) was sentenced in Miami to 70 months in prison today for her role in a $63 million fraud scheme. Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; United States Attorney Wifredo A Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Michael B Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B Dennis of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Cecilia M Altonaga. Dana Gonzalez, 43, of High Point, North Carolina, pleaded guilty on March 6, 2013, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
In addition to the prison sentence, Gonzalez was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $19,428,120 in restitution. During the course of the conspiracy, Gonzalez was employed as a therapist and program coordinator of HCSN’s Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness. According to court documents, HCSN of Florida (HCSN-FL) operated community mental health centers at two locations.
Gonzalez was aware that HCSN-FL paid illegal kickbacks to owners and operators of Miami-Dade County Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) in exchange for patient referral information to be used to submit false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Gonzalez admitted that she routinely fabricated medical records for purported mental health treatment that were used to support false and fraudulent claims to health care benefit programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Gonzalez admitted that she routinely fabricated these medical records, despite knowing that many of the ALF referral patients were ineligible for PHP services because many patients suffered from mental retardation, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Gonzalez, an unlicensed clinical social worker intern at the time, also admitted to providing unlicensed therapy to PHP patients when licensed therapists were absent.
In total, Gonzalez admitted that during her employment at HCSN, she and her co-conspirators submitted approximately $46,959,975 in false and fraudulent claims. According to court documents, from 2004 through 2011, HCSN billed Medicare and the Florida Medicaid program approximately $63 million for purported mental health services. This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Allan J Medina and former Special Trial Attorney William J Parente of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
In support of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, the FBI Criminal Investigative Division’s Financial Crimes Section has funded the Special Trial Attorney position. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers. To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
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