INDIANAPOLIS -- The former CEO of Indiana’s largest nursing home company was among four men arrested yesterday in a scheme that prosecutors say bilked more than $16 million from federal and state health care programs between 2009 and 2015.
American Senior Communities fired former chief executive James Burkhart and chief operating officer Dan Benson last September after federal agents raided Burkhart’s home and the company’s headquarters.
Burkhart’s brother, Josh Burkhart, and friend Steve Ganote were also named in the federal grand jury indictment on charges ranging from wire fraud and health care fraud to conspiracy and money laundering.
Josh Minkler, the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Indiana, said Wednesday that the men created at least a dozen shell companies and used them to overcharge and falsify charges, mainly to Medicaid and Medicare. They also enlisted some vendors in a kickback scheme, overcharging for everything from landscaping to new American flags for their facilities.
“Nothing was off the table for these individuals,” Minkler said Wednesday.
The indictment alleges that the men used the money on luxuries such as vacation homes, gambling junkets, diamond jewelry and gold. Minkler said some of the money would be repaid through forfeiture of property.
American Senior Communities runs 84 care facilities, including 60 that are owned by the Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County.
Minkler said the scheme did not endanger the health or well-being of any nursing home residents.
“In this case, our priority throughout this investigation was to make sure that none of the people in the nursing homes were harmed,” Minkler said. “Our concern is when you have a scheme of illegal fraud and kickbacks, all of the sudden the bubble will burst, the money will run out, and that’s when the harm would occur. We stopped that before it could occur.”
Minkler said the investigation is ongoing, and more charges are likely.
The company has cooperated with authorities during the 16-month investigation. In a statement issued Wednesday, American Senior Communities expressed gratitude to the federal agencies handling the investigation.