A nursing home owner was convicted on federal charges of conspiring to defraud Medicaid and Medicare programs by billing them for worthless services in the operation of three Atlanta-area nursing homes, where hundreds of patients received deficient care for years.
He was given 20 years in federal prison. Additionally, he’s been ordered to pay more than $6.7 million in restitution to both Medicare and Medicaid, as well as $875,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
Our Stuart nursing home abuse attorneys understand that the owner was paid some $33 million by the federal government to provide services that were never offered to patients. These included charges he claimed for food and medical care. Patients either never received these services or they were so minimal as to be deemed worthless by state and federal investigators.
Following his arrest, the nursing home owner requested a bench trial, which lasted through the end of February. A verdict wasn’t rendered until the following month, when, in addition to his conviction for health care fraud, he was also convicted for eight counts of ripping off the IRS for $800,000 in employee payroll taxes between 2004 and 2005.
Officials say the owner was living large. In lieu of alimony payments, he bought his ex-wife a $1.4 million home in Atlanta and also put her on salary as a nursing home employee – despite the fact that she never worked there. He also drove a Mercedes-Benz, owned luxury furniture and took expensive vacations. He even spent $4.2 million on a real estate purchase where he planned to build a luxury hotel.
Meanwhile,between the summer of 2004 and the fall of 2007, the residents at the nursing homes he oversaw were suffering. Officials described the patients as hungry and living in facilities that were overrun with filth and mold. Some were bordering on starvation. There were leaking roofs, toilets that failed to work, little to no nursing or housekeeping supplies, serious staff shortages and safety concerns. In one case, employees used a 55-gallon drum to collect and divert rainwater. In one of the homes, the leaks had gotten so bad that the fiberglass ceilings were saturated and pieces of the ceiling began to fall onto the residents’ beds.
Windows had to stay open to help abate the awful smells. There were also mosquitoes, flies and even rodents that were entering through poorly-fitted doors and screens. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that the owner failed to pay the trash collection bills, so mounds of garbage began to pile up near the dumpsters.
The homes began to become overrun with mold and mildew, which worsened when the owner failed to have broken air conditioning units replaced. He also never bothered to fix broken clothes dryers, washing machines or hot water heaters.
As for the food situation, it got so bad that workers spent their own money to purchase bread, milk and other groceries so the residents wouldn’t starve. They took their linens home to wash and purchased cleaning supplies from their own pockets.
Many employees were paid by checks that bounced. Health insurance premiums were withheld from their earnings, despite the fact that employees weren’t actually covered. Several were left with huge unpaid medical bills after they sought treatment or surgeries.
When you start to add all this up, 20 years doesn’t sound like such a stiff sentence after all.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Atlanta Man Convicted of Billing $32.9 Million for Worthless Services While Operating “Horrendous” Nursing Homes, April 3, 2012, Press Release, Federal Bureau of Investigation
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