SANTA ANA, California. Ten drug treatment facility owners and patient recruiters in Orange County were prosecuted by the DOJ on December 16 for kickback schemes involving the exploitation of drug addicted patients seeking help.
For ten months, the Sober Homes Initiative in Southern California, an anti-fraud initiative led by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Health Fraud and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has targeted hospitals in Orange County.
As a result of the investigation, criminal charges were brought against ten suspects; four were taken into custody, including three from the district.
“Greed has driven unscrupulous drug addiction treatment center operators into Southern California,” US Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said in a statement.
“Corrupt people,” Wilkeson said, “target vulnerable addicts with generous health insurance benefits and have taken advantage of the national opioid crisis by fueling what he called a“ patient sales network. ”
Depending on the type of patient’s insurance, the defendants allegedly paid recruiters regular monthly payments for each patient referred to their hospitals, convalescence homes, or laboratories.
“Getting kickbacks for referring patients to specialists is life-threatening and has no place in our healthcare system,” California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said in a statement.
Nick Rochdi, 51, of Aliso Viejo, and Vincent Bindi, 66, of Laguna Niguel, who owned Crest Recovery LLC, doing business as Truvida Recovery, were arrested on charges of allegedly paying and receiving kickbacks for stepping into a sober lifestyle. houses, the department said in a press release.
Roshdi and Bindi face up to 65 years in prison.
Donald Wouter, 30, from Santa Margarita Ranch, a Truvida employee, and Michael Hislop, 56, from Boston, Massachusetts, a patient recruiter, were also arrested and charged with conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks for referral to an addiction treatment center. …
Both Wauter and Hislop face up to 35 years in prison.
Casey Mahoney, 45, from Los Angeles, and 32-year-old Joseph Parkinson, formerly of Costa Mesa, were charged with a multi-million dollar drug rollback scheme last October.
In addition to paying and receiving kickbacks for patient referrals, the department accused Mahoney of money laundering for fraudulently transferring funds received as a result of kickbacks to the mother of a patient broker.
Mahoney faces up to 35 years in prison.
Parkinson, a patient recruiter, has been accused of structuring currency – making one or more money transactions to evade reporting requirements – storing fentanyl to distribute, and paying and receiving kickbacks for referrals to sober homes.
Parkinson faces up to 165 years in prison.
“Fraudulent kickbacks in drug treatment create perverse incentives for patient recruiters, who often leave addicts in the toxic cycle of drug use and treatment,” said Christie K. Johnson, deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Field office in Los Angeles, in a statement.
“The FBI is committed to fighting healthcare fraud so that addiction survivors can get legal help and encourages patients and staff to report kickback schemes,” Johnson added.
The following are other allegations obtained from the investigation.
Darius Moore, 28, a former Santa Ana resident, pleaded guilty last December to conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks for referrals to sober homes.
Moore, who received roughly $ 488,500 in kickbacks for his recommendations, is to be sentenced on May 13, 2022, facing up to 15 years in prison.
Adrian Gonzalez, 37, of Laguna Hills, who controlled Stone Ridge Recovery Inc. and Landmark Recovery LLC, last August pleaded guilty to paying at least $ 1 million kickbacks to patient recruiters.
Gonzalez will serve up to 10 years in prison, the sentence is due on January 28, 2022.
Dorian Ballou, 30, a former Costa Mesa resident, pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks for referrals.
Ballou, who has recruited patients at several hospitals in the county and has paid at least $ 1.8 million in kickbacks in exchange for referring patients, faces up to 15 years in prison and is due on April 8, 2022.
Kyle Reed, 29, who previously lived in Huntington Beach, pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks for being sent to sober homes.
Reed, a patient recruiter for several county hospitals, paid at least $ 604,474 in exchange for patient referrals.
He faces up to 15 years in prison, the sentence is scheduled for May 6, 2022.
The Justice Department declined to comment further.