A Los Angeles man who recruited homeless people from skid row for a patient scam involving a now-shuttered Tustin hospital was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison.
United States District Judge George H. King also ordered Estill Mitts, 68, who lives near the Miracle Mile district of LA, to pay more than $9.8 million in restitution.
This federal government's prosecution has already resulted in prison sentences for Tustin Hospital and Medical Center physician Dr. Kenneth Thaler, the 62-year-old who admitted the patients from LA's skid row, and Vincent Rubio, the hospital's former chief financial officer who paid illegal kickbacks to Mitts and other patient recruiters.
The hospital closed last spring.
Medicare and Medi-Cal were fraudulently billed for the unnecessary health services rendered to the skid row patients.
Mitts, the recruiting scheme's ringleader, was "fueled by greed to enrich himself" and "breeds contempt for, leads to a lack of confidence in, and threatens the stability of" the Medicare program," Judge King said this morning, according to a U.S. Attorney's statement.
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He received more than $1 million in personal profits, and failed to report his illegal income for taxes. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering and tax evasion, but his sentencing was delayed a number of times as he provided assistance to the government's investigation that has led to 11 defendants being charged and convicted.
The Tustin hospital was not the only one used in the scam, as City of Angels Hospital and Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center in LA also received the skid row patients. Robert Bourseau, one of the owners of City of Angels, was sentenced to 37 months in prison, and Dante Nicholson, the director of marketing at City of Angels, who also cooperated with the government in its investigation, was sentenced to one year in prison.
Thaler also got a year.