Topics
More on Compliance & Legal

Healthcare CEO hit with $667,000 penalty, prison sentence for stealing Medicaid funds, neglecting residents

Former Benchmark Healthcare chief pocketed money while residents did not receive medication, food and needed dietary supplements, DOJ said.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Benchmark Healthcare in Festus, Missouri is now closed after its former CEO stole Medicaid funds and left patients in squalid conditions.Benchmark Healthcare in Festus, Missouri is now closed after its former CEO stole Medicaid funds and left patients in squalid conditions.

A former healthcare CEO will spend nearly three and a half years in prison and pay more than $667,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to charges he stole Medicaid funds meant for nursing homes, causing living condition there to deteriorate and residents to go without sufficient food, the Department of Justice announced.

Citing court documents, the DOJ said between 2013 and 2016, John Mac Sells, 53, of St. Peters, Missouri, was the CEO of Benchmark Healthcare of Festus and a number of long-term care facilities in Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. He previously pleaded guilty to two counts of healthcare fraud.

The DOJ said Sells stole Medicaid funds which were supposed to be used to provide care for elderly and disabled residents at Benchmark. Due to Sells' theft of funds, residents did not receive medication, food and needed dietary supplements.

[Also: Running list of notable 2017 healthcare frauds]

"On one occasion, the residents were only given a clear bowl of broth soup and a very small cookie. Another meal consisted of 1 to 2 ounces of lunchmeat, half of a baked potato, and a small muffin. Neither of these meals was substantial and did not meet the nutritional needs of the residents. On some occasions, Benchmark staff had to use their own money to buy food when there was no or inadequate food at the facility," the DOJ said.

Medical laboratory services, medical record services and pharmacy services also lagged due non-payment stemming from Sells' theft of funds. Moreover, living conditions at the homes deteriorated. Trash piled up and flies infested the facility and the surrounding area due to lack of pest control services.

[Also: New Jersey doctor to pay nearly $25 million over prescriptions fraud]

"The facility was dirty and unsafe because routine maintenance and repairs because were not performed," the DOJ said.

Meanwhile, Sells spent the stolen Medicaid funds on personal frivolities such as $184,889 at adult entertainment and strip clubs, $11,566 at a country club, $14,614 for pet care and $4,513 at casinos.

The case was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General and the Missouri Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sandborn@himssmedia.com

Show All Comments