Psychiatrist sentenced to 54 months for fraud in drug treatment

Psychiatrist Jose Santeiro, MD, of Miami Lakes, Fla., was sentenced to 54 months in prison for engaging in a scheme to fraudulently charge approximately $112 million for addiction services that were never provided or that were not medically unnecessary, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

Santeiro was medical director of two drug treatment centers where the fraud occurred: Compass Detox, an inpatient residential and drug rehabilitation center in Pembroke Pines, and WAR Network LLC (WAR), a related outpatient treatment program at Hallandale Beach.

According to trial evidence, Santeiro and others admitted patients for expensive and medically unnecessary rehab services after recruiters offered bribes to lure them into the programs and then gave patients drugs illegal to ensure they were admitted to rehab at Compass Detox.

He also made bogus claims for excessive and medically unnecessary drug testing.

Santeiro and others then authorized the readmission of a core group of patients who were mixed between Compass Detox and WAR to fraudulently bill “as much as possible, even though the patients did not need the expensive treatment for which they’ve been admitted multiple times,” the DOJ said.

He added that Santeiro gave Compass Detox patients a “comforting drink” to put them to sleep so they would stay in the facility.

“Sober Homes Initiative”

The evidence further showed that Santeiro allowed his ID to be used by others to sign electronic medical records in order to give the impression that he had provided care himself, when in reality he did not. had not done.

After a 15-day trial in March 2022, Santeiro was found guilty of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud, as well as eight counts of healthcare fraud.

His sentencing is part of the DOJ’s “Sober Homes Initiative,” which prosecutes defendants who exploit vulnerable patients seeking treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction.

Two other co-defendants, Jonathan and Daniel Markovich, were convicted at an earlier trial in November 2021 and sentenced to 188 months and 97 months in prison, respectively.

Additionally, Richard Waserstein, a Florida attorney and co-owner of the two treatment centers, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money and was sentenced to 13 months in prison.

Drew Lieberman, MD, chief medical officer of Compass Detox, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and was sentenced to 13 months in prison.

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