Ex-Tustin Hospital Official Pleads Guilty in Homeless Patient-Dumping Scheme

Former Weekly reporter Daffodil J. Altan a year and change ago asked, "Will the Feds Come After Tustin Hospitals Next?" She was referring to officials at Tustin Hospital and Medical Center, which was among three hospitals federal authorities raided in 2008 as part of a homeless-patient dumping investigation.

Indeed the feds did, Daffy. And Vincent Rubio, the Tustin Hospital's 49-year-old former chief financial officer, agreed in court papers filed today to plead guilty to charges of paying illegal kickbacks for homeless patients recruited from Los Angeles' skid row.

Rubio, who faces up to 15 years in prison, is the fifth person charged in the multi-million dollar scheme that defrauded taxpayer-funded healthcare programs by using thousands of patients rounded up from skid row for unnecessary medical tests and procedures.

Federal prosecutors, who are hoping to snare other suspects, have secured Rubio's cooperation with the ongoing investigation, reports the LA Times. He admitted in the plea agreement that he helped orchestrate payments to a skid row center operator, Estill Mitts, and another unnamed person, who recruited homeless people and arranged their transportation to Tustin Hospital. Mitts has already pleaded guilty.

One of the other hospitals raided, Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center, like Tustin Hospital and Medical Center is owned by Tustin-based Pacific Health Corp. The same company also owns code-violation-plauged Anaheim General Hospital.

The third hospital raided was Echo Park's City of Angels Medical Center, whose CEO Robert Bourseau, former CEO Dr. Rudra Sabaratnam and former senior vice president Dante Nicholson have pleaded guilty and await sentencing in the coming weeks and months.

KNBC/Channel 4 reports today that Bourseau and Sabaratnam must pay a $10 million fine to the federal government to settle a civil lawsuit.


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