Addiction Treatment Centers Medical Director Sentenced in $112M Drug Treatment Fraud Scheme

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For participating in a scheme to falsely bill $112 million for addiction services that were never provided or were medically unnecessary, a Florida doctor was today sentenced to 54 months in prison.

At two addiction treatment centers where he served as medical director, Jose Santeiro, 62, of Miami Lakes, allegedly collaborated with others to fraudulently bill nearly $112 million for addiction treatment services that have never been provided or medically unnecessary. These facilities included WAR Network LLC (WAR), an associated outpatient treatment program, and Second Chance Detox LLC, dba Compass Detox (Compass Detox), an inpatient residential and drug rehabilitation center.

Santeiro and others admitted patients for medically unnecessary detox treatments, the most expensive type of therapy provided by facilities, according to court documents and evidence produced during the trial. In order to entice patients to enroll in the programs, patient recruiters offered bribes. They then provided the patients with illegal narcotics to secure their admission to Compass Detox for rehab.

Santeiro presented false and fraudulent claims for numerous medically unnecessary urine drug tests that were never used in therapy, according to evidence presented at trial. Santeiro and others subsequently approved the readmission of a core group of patients who were alternately treated with Compass Detox and WAR in order to fraudulently bill as much as possible, despite the fact that the patients did not need the treatment. expensive for which they have been repeatedly admitted.

Santeiro also gave Compass Detox patients a “comforting drink” as a sedative to keep them at the facility and encourage their return. The evidence also revealed that other people had signed electronic medical records using Santeiro’s login with his knowledge, making it appear that Santeiro had administered care when he had not.

Santeiro was found guilty of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud, as well as eight counts of healthcare fraud, following a 15-day trial in March 2022. Jonathan and Daniel Markovich, two other co-accused, were found guilty at a pretrial in November 2021 and received sentences of 188 months and 97 months in prison, respectively.

Lawyer Richard Waserstein was sentenced to 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money. Another doctor, Drew Lieberman, admitted conspiring to commit health care fraud and was sentenced to 13 months in prison. Christopher Garnto was sentenced to 24 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and healthcare fraud.

The announcement was made by the Criminal Division of Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., the Criminal Investigations Division of FBI Deputy Director Luis Quesada, and Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar from the Ministry of Health and Health. Office of Human Services of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG).

The case was reviewed by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, HHS-OIG and the FBI Miami Field Office.

The case was prosecuted by senior litigation counsel Jim Hayes, trial attorneys Jamie de Boer and Andrea Savdie, and the criminal division’s fraud section.

The Justice Department’s Sober Homes initiative, which prosecutes criminals who prey on vulnerable patients seeking treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction, is led by the National Rapid Response Strike Force, Los Angeles Strike Force and the Miami Strike Force.

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