March 24 (UPI) — The medical director overseeing a pair of Florida addiction treatment facilities was convicted in an addiction treatment fraud scheme, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Jose Santeiro, 72, was part of a scheme that illegally billed approximately $112 million worth of addiction treatment services that were never rendered, or were medically unnecessary, the Justice Department said in a release.
Santeiro, who is a doctor, was convicted of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud, and eight counts of healthcare fraud.
He faces up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy count and up to 10 years in prison for each healthcare fraud count.
“Santeiro’s conviction demonstrates the unwavering commitment of the Department of Justice’s Sober Homes Initiative to protect patients and prosecuting fraudulent substance abuse treatment facilities,” said Assistant General Kenneth A. Polite Jr.
“Rather than ‘do no harm,’ Santeiro, driven by greed, used his medical license to do unconscionable harm to vulnerable patients struggling with addiction. The department will relentlessly pursue these cases to ensure patients get the care they deserve.”
The scheme saw two brothers shuffle “a core group of patients” between the Compass Detox inpatient facility and WAR Network, a related outpatient treatment program “in a cycle of admissions and re-admissions to fraudulently bill for as much as possible,” according to the Justice Department.
Jonathan Markovich, 37, and his brother, Daniel Markovich, 33, were both convicted in November in the Southern District of Florida as part of the same scheme.
The men also billed for therapy sessions that were not provided or that patients did not attend, as well as excessive and unnecessary urinalysis drug tests.
Jonathan Markovich was handed 188 months in prison, while Daniel Markovich received a 97-month prison sentence.
The men prayed on vulnerable patients, often offering them illegal kickbacks through recruiters in an attempt to keep them at the facilities for as long as possible, trying to maximize the fraudulent treatment.
“Fraudulent billing schemes like this deprive vulnerable patients of needed medical care and divert valuable resources from America’s healthcare system,” said FBI Assistant Director Luis Quesada.
“Today’s conviction is a clear warning to anyone engaged in health care fraud that theFBI, together with our partners, will aggressively pursue you and hold you accountable for your actions.”