• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Hospital exec. sentenced in Skid Row kickbacks

February 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A former co-owner of City of Angels Medical Center was sentenced Monday to 37 months in federal prison for paying illegal kickbacks for referrals of patients who were recruited from Los Angeles' Skid Row.Robert Bourseau, 75, pleaded guilty in June and was also ordered to pay $4.1 million in restitution for defrauding Medicare and Medi-Cal for medical services the homeless did not need.

In sentencing Bourseau, who maintains residences in Rancho Mirage and downtown Los Angeles, United State District Judge George H. King said Bourseau's conduct was "extraordinarily serious" and that the kickback schemes "degrade the health care system all because of greed and money."

King added, "Society must know that those who abuse the health care system must answer for that conduct in court."

A 12-count indictment alleges Bourseau, his partner Rudra Sabaratnam, and Dante Nicholson conspired to recruit homeless people to get health services they did not need for the purpose of committing health care fraud.

Bourseau admitted in June to paying Estill Mitts and others to refer homeless Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries to his City of Angels Medical Center for in-patient hospital stays.

In Dec. 2008, Sabaratnam, 65, a doctor who resides in Brentwood pleaded guilty to paying illegal kickbacks for patient referrals.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5.

Bourseau and Sabaratnam have agreed to pay the United States $10 million to resolve a civil lawsuit that they defrauded Medicare and Medi-Cal.

In March 2009, Nicholson pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks for patient referrals and is scheduled to be sentenced June 14.

Mitts, 64, of Los Angeles operated a center that recruited homeless people to receive unnecessary health services, pleaded guilty in September 2009 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

Mitts is scheduled to be sentenced on June 21.

In a related case, Vincent Rubio, 49, of Los Angeles, the former chief financial officer of Tustin Hospital and Medical Center, has agreed to plead guilty to paying illegal kickbacks for patients who were recruited from Skid Row.

His court case begins Monday.

The United States Attorney's office says the cases are part of an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation Division and other agencies.