FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 11, 2000
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Riverview Nursing Centre, Inc., pleaded guilty to overstating costs incurred in connection with treating Medicaid patients by $23,000. Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Audrey J.S. Carrion found the nursing home guilty of Medicaid fraud, and ordered it to pay a fine of $10,000 and to repay the Medicaid program three times the amount of the fraud. This is the maximum sentence allowed by law.
Prosecutors told the court that the nursing home submitted false claims known as "cost reports" to the Medicaid program. All Medicaid nursing homes are required to file a cost report each year, in which they list expenses related to providing necessary care to their Medicaid patients. It is illegal for a nursing home to include expenses for items that are personal to the owners or are otherwise not related to providing medical care. According to the statement of facts filed in this case, Riverview Nursing Centre and its related corporation, Liberty Nursing Center Center, Inc., both of which were owned by the DeFontes family, reported expenses that were personal to the owners on their Medicaid cost reports. The illegal expenses included travel to Barbados, motorcycle expenses, entertainment, and numerous clothing and household expenses for the owners and their families.
"We will ensure that the dollars Maryland dedicates to caring for its most vulnerable adult population are in fact used for medical services, rather than the hobbies and whims of the providers," General Curran said.
Riverview pleaded guilty pursuant to an agreement with the Attorney Generalís Office that required the triple repayment of expenses that were improperly claimed for both nursing homes. Both the nursing homes and the owners are required to file amended state and federal income tax returns pursuant to the plea agreement in this case. Riverview Nursing Centre was located at 1 Eastern Boulevard and Liberty Nursing Center, known as Granada Nursing Center, was located at 4017 Liberty Heights Avenue, both in Baltimore City.
The Attorney Generalís Medicaid Fraud Control Unit initiated its investigation after receiving a tip from the stateís nursing home auditors, Clifton-Gunderson, LLC. Riverview Nursing Centre and Liberty Nursing Center have both been sold since the cost reports in question were filed.