Sober homes and substance abuse treatment centers are great resources to keep former or potential offenders out of jail. Unfortunately, the former owner of two of these facilities in Florida, along with his wife and clinical director, used these resources to commit healthcare fraud, and now they are on their way jail themselves.
The centers were illegally owned by Kenneth Chatman, a convicted felon who recently pleaded guilty to charges related to the healthcare fraud scheme. Barry Gregory was the clinical director of the Reflections Treatment Center in Margate and the Journey to Recovery in Lake Worth.
Chatman, Gregory, and others allegedly took advantage of the individuals who entered the facility with hopes to overcome addiction. Many of the patients overdosed while Gregory was at the facility, but he failed to report his concerns or any incidents to authorities.
The fraud ring also illegally billed insurance companies for fake treatment and drug tests. An overwhelming majority of patients were testing positive for drugs when taking these tests, but they were not used to influence treatment. Gregory admitted that the tests were useless.
Chatman has been convicted for concealing his ownership of the facilities, and paying bribes and kickbacks in order to get referrals. Gregory admitted to knowing about many of Chatman’s crimes while they were being committed in 2015 and 2016.
Due to his role in the scheme, Gregory was charged and convicted for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and knowingly falsifying a matter involving health care benefit programs. He was recently sentenced to four years and nine months in prison, and has voluntarily given up his mental health counseling license.
Other co-conspirators have been sentenced to 18 months, four years, and seven years behind bars. Additional individuals involved in the ring, including ringleader Kenneth Chatman, are awaiting sentencing.
How Are Healthcare Fraud Sentences Determined?
Healthcare fraud is a white collar crime that primarily consists of the theft of another person’s property. The health care industry estimates that the crime costs taxpayers between $68 million and $230 million every year, and with healthcare costs concerning lawmakers and citizens alike, prosecutors want to ensure that offenders are put behind bars for years.
Moreover, while this crime is typically nonviolent, people can still be put in danger. In the case of this healthcare fraud ring, not only were hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen, many patients’ lives were put at risk.
Like most white collar crimes, the sentence for health care fraud crimes primarily depends on the amount of money that was involved. A patient who gets a false prescription for personal painkillers is going to face a significantly shorter sentence than a healthcare professional that conducts healthcare fraud over a number of years. Other factors that go into sentencing include:
- Court where the crime is tried (healthcare fraud may be tried at the state or federal level)
- Previous offenses
- Cooperation with investigators
- Restitution (payment may be made to victims in lieu of jail time)
- Patients affected by fraud
- Bodily injury that results from healthcare fraud
Defending yourself against health care fraud charges can be incredibly intimidating. However, while these charges are very serious, there are ways for defendants to obtain a mitigated sentence or even have their charges dropped entirely. To have the best chance at a positive outcome, contact a Florida health care fraud lawyer immediately and start building a strong defense.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.