“He's being held responsible for crimes that were committed by some of the employees at a very low level that he had no contact with and didn't know what they were doing,” DeGuerin said. “He set policy and procedures that complied with all the statutes and the laws but there were some people who were cheating and stealing or paying bribes, but they were at a very low level. It wasn't anything he approved of, but he was held responsible because he's at the top.”
DeGuerin said his client plans to appeal.
Attempts to reach Earnest Gibson IV's attorney, Matt Hennessy, for comment were not immediately successful Tuesday afternoon.
Between 2005 and 2012, Riverside and its satellite locations billed Medicare for partial hospitalization program services for Medicare beneficiaries who did not qualify for nor need the services, which are a form of intensive outpatient treatment for severe mental illness, according to the Justice Department release.
The beneficiaries rarely saw psychiatrists and did not receive intensive psychiatric treatment. Some were suffering from Alzheimer's, meaning they couldn't have participated in treatment even had they qualified for it.
“For over six years, the Gibsons and their co-conspirators stuck taxpayers with millions in hospital bills, purportedly for intensive psychiatric treatment. But the 'treatment' was a sham—some patients just watched television all day, others had dementia and couldn't understand the therapy they supposedly received, and other patients never even went to the hospital at all,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, according to the release.
Earnest Gibson III also paid kickbacks to patient recruiters, owners and operators of group-care homes, including Askew, in exchange for them sending ineligible Medicare patients to the hospital's partial hospitalization programs. Earnest Gibson IV also paid patient recruiters to do the same for his program, according to the department.
Proceeds from the fraud were used to further the scheme by paying kickbacks to patient recruiters and group-home owners for sending their Medicare beneficiaries to the programs.
Robert Crane, a patient recruiter, also was convicted of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks on Monday.
The four convicted on Monday are scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 17.
Others already have pleaded guilty to charges in the same scheme, including Mohammad Khan, an assistant administrator at the hospital, and William Bullock, an operator of a Riverside satellite location. Others who paid or received kickbacks, including Leslie Clark, Robert Ferguson, Waddie McDuffie and Sharonda Holmes, have also pleaded guilty for their involvement.
Follow Lisa Schencker on Twitter: @lschencker