Former Hollywood Pavilion COO Pleads Guilty in $67 Million Fraud Scheme By Tod Aronovitz | 11/26/14 | 0 Comment

Hollywood Pavilion LLC, a state-licensed psychiatric hospital located in Hollywood, FL, is at the center of a $67 million Medicare billing conspiracy in which the former chief operating office, Christopher Gabel, recently pleaded guilty for his involvement in the health care fraud scheme, according to an announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The 61-year old Davie resident entered his plea to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive health care kickbacks before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in the Southern District of Florida. Gabel was initially charged in an indictment returned on May 8.

The Miami area mental health hospital purported to offer both inpatient and outpatient mental health services at two facilities, according to Gabel’s admissions in connection with his guilty plea. In his role as COO, Gabel supervised staff at both locations, allowing Medicare beneficiaries to be admitted regardless of whether they qualified for mental health treatment. Many were often admitted without even seeing a doctor first.

Gabel disclosed that Hollywood Pavilion also paid kickbacks and bribes to a variety of patient brokers to get Medicare beneficiaries from across the country. Gabel instructed the brokers to falsify invoices and marketing reports in an effort to cover up the true nature of these payments.

From April 2003 through August 2012, Hollywood Pavilion billed Medicare approximately $67 million for services that were not provided to patients, for patients who did not qualify for the services being billed, and for claims on patients who were brought in through bribes and kickbacks. Nearly $40 million of those claims were reimbursed by Medicare.

Other co-conspirators in the scheme—Karen Kallen-Zury, Daisy Miller, Michele Petrie and Christian Coloma—were already convicted at trial in June 2013 and sentenced for their involvement, some of whom we reported about on our ARONOVITZ LAW Blog.

Kallen-Zury, Hollywood Pavilion’s former CEO, was sentenced to 25 years in prison; Miller, the clinical director at the inpatient facility, was sentenced to 15 years in prison; and Petrie, the head of Hollywood Pavilion’s intensive outpatient program, was sentenced to six years in prison. Coloma, the director of physical therapy for an entity associated with the hospital, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Kallen-Zury, Miller and Petrie were ordered to pay nearly $40 million in restitution, while Coloma was ordered to pay more than $20 million in restitution.

How to Report Miami Medicare Fraud

Healthcare professionals or medical billing employees who have knowledge of questionable Medicare billing practices can file a confidential legal claim under the False Claims Act. By acting as a “whistleblower” in what is known as a “qui tam” lawsuit, a private party may collect up to 30 percent of the amount recovered, depending on how the case is prosecuted.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam Law Firm

The Miami Qui Tam law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW routinely works with whistleblowers to document Medicare fraud and other forms of fraud against the government. Contact Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam lawyer Tod Aronovitz to discuss your case.