Vanja Abreu, Ph.D. of Pembroke Pines, Florida, was sentenced to 9 years in prison, followed by 3 years of probation and ordered to pay nearly $73 million in restitution, jointly and severally with her co-defendants, for her role in a $205 million Medicare fraud scheme. In June 2012, a federal jury found Abreu guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to the Justice Department, Abreu is the former program director of American Therapeutic Corporation (“ATC”), a mental health care company based in Miami, Florida. ATC provided treatment for severe mental illness in 7 different South Florida locations.
Evidence at Abreu’s trial revealed that she, and other co-conspirators, submitted false claims to Medicare through ATC. It was shown at trial that ATC paid kickbacks to assisted living facility and halfway house owners in order to induce them to steer their residents to ATC. According to court documents, these purported patients were not eligible for and did not receive the treatments purportedly provided by ATC and for which ATC billed Medicare.
During the trial, it was revealed that Abreu and others at ATC falsified medical records to make it appear that the patients were appropriate for the specialized partial hospitalization programs and that the patients were receiving the treatments, when in fact, they were not.
ATC, its management company Medlink Professional Management Group, Inc. and 20 individuals have been charged in connection with the scheme. All have either pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial. According to the Justice Department, ATC and Medlink were sentenced to 5 years of probation and ordered to pay $87 million in restitution. Both companies shut down in October 2010 when their owners were arrested.