The former chairman and co-owner of a Los Angeles hospital was sentenced to three years in prison for paying kickbacks for patients recruited from an area known as “Skid Row” for unnecessary treatment that was billed to Medicare and Medicaid.
“Society must know that those who abuse the healthcare system must answer for that conduct in court,” U.S. District Judge George King said during Robert Bourseau's sentencing hearing, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. Bourseau was ordered to pay $4.1 million in restitution, a sum that reflects what prosecutors say the state and federal health programs paid as a result of the fraud.
Bourseau, 75, pleaded guilty last June to his role and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, who are conducting an ongoing investigation of the scheme beyond Bourseau's hospital, City of Angels Medical Center. Rudra Sabaratnam, the other owner and CEO of City of Angels, and Dante Nicholson, a senior vice president, also pleaded guilty and await sentencing. Estill Mitts, who ran a phony assessment center that directed people from Skid Row's streets and shelters to the hospital, pleaded guilty as well and has yet to be sentenced.
The U.S. attorney's office recently secured a plea agreement with Vincent Rubio, a former chief financial officer of Tustin (Calif.) Hospital and Medical Center who likewise admitted paying kickbacks to Mitts and another recruiter for patients.
Tustin Hospital is one of two hospitals owned by for-profit Pacific Health Corp. that has been implicated in the scheme in a related civil lawsuit. Regarding Rubio's plea, Pacific Health CEO James Young said in a written statement that the CFO was dismissed in 2006 after the company discovered he “improperly received payments from a marketing organization that was under contract to Pacific Health.”
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