Skid Row Medicare|Crook Gets 1 1/2 Years

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A “Christian Day Center” operator who recruited people from Los Angeles’ Skid Row to defraud Medicare and Medi-Cal of $10 million was sentenced Monday to 1 1/2 years in federal prison.
     Estill Mitts, 68, also was ordered to pay more than $9.8 million in restitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     Mitts pleaded guilty in 2008 to conspiring to commit health care fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. His sentencing was delayed repeatedly as he helped prosecutors investigate, charge and convict 11 others, the U.S. attorney said.
     The scheme was discovered after hospitals were found to be dumping patients on Skid Row. The dumped patients told investigators they had been paid to go to the hospital.
     “From 2004 until October 2007, Mitts operated the Assessment Center, a facilityon East Seventh Street in downtown Los Angeles that was also known as 7th Street Christian Day Center,” the U.S. attorney said in the statement.
     Citing a sentencing memorandum, the U.S. attorney added: “‘Mitts employed individuals he called “stringers” to recruit homeless people with promises of small payments. The Assessment Center was not a medical clinic, but a site that defendant used for the purpose of recruiting homeless Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries for referral to three hospitals – City of Angels Hospital, Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center, and Tustin Hospital and Medical Center. Defendant and others working for him would recruit homeless beneficiaries for in-patient hospital admissions whether or not such hospitalizations were medically necessary.'”

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