A former Los Angeles hospital executive is the third conspirator to plead guilty in a scheme to fill hospital beds with homeless people and bill Medicare and Medicaid for care they didnt need.
Dante Nicholson, 51, admitted in federal court in Los Angeles that he coordinated kickbacks paid for the referrals while working for 150-bed City of Angels Medical Center as director of business development, vice president for business development and finally senior vice president for physician services. The hospitals former chief executive officer and co-owner, Rudra Sabaratnam, pleaded guilty in December 2008 to his role in the fraud. Sabaratnams partner in the hospital, Robert Bourseau, was indicted with Nicholson in late January and has pleaded innocent.
According to Nicholsons plea agreement, City of Angels paid nearly $500,000 for patients under sham consulting contracts: $500 for someone with Medicare coverage and $250 or $300 for someone covered by Medi-Cal, Californias Medicaid program. Nicholson would check lists of patients submitted by the recruiters against admission records to determine what was owed, then submit the invoices for payment. Most of the payments went to Estill Mitts, who has admitted running a phony assessment center that solicited patients from the area known as Skid Row.
Nicholson faces 10 years in prison and has agreed to pay $4.1 million in restitution to Medicare and Medi-Cal.