WASHINGTON – The owner and operator of a Broward County, Fla.-area halfway house was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for his role in a Medicare fraud kickback scheme that funneled patients through a fraudulent mental health company, announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Barry Nash, 69, was also sentenced by U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. Nash pleaded guilty on Jan. 9, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Nash was the owner and operator of Starter House, a halfway house operating in Broward County.
Nash admitted that, in exchange for illegal health care kickbacks, he agreed to refer Medicare beneficiaries who resided at Starter House to American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC) and American Sleep Institute (ASI), a company related to ATC. Nash knew that ATC and ASI fraudulently billed Medicare for partial hospitalization program (PHP) services and sleep treatment purportedly provided to his referrals. PHP is a form of intensive mental health treatment.
According to court documents, ATC’s principals paid kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities and halfway houses and to patient brokers in exchange for delivering ineligible patients to ATC and ASI. In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks. Throughout the course of the ATC conspiracy, millions of dollars in kickbacks were paid in exchange for Medicare beneficiaries who did not qualify for PHP services. Ultimately, ATC and ASI billed Medicare for more than $200 million in medically unnecessary services.
According to the plea agreement, Nash’s participation in the fraud resulted in more than $959,901 in fraudulent billing to the Medicare program.