Psychiatrist sentenced for $112M addiction treatment fraud

A Miami Lakes, Fla. psychiatrist was sentenced to 54 months in prison for unlawfully billing about $112 million in addiction treatment services that were never completed and/or medically unnecessary, according to the U.S. Justice Department..

Jose Santerio, MD,  62, was convicted of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and wire fraud and eight counts of healthcare fraud at a trial in March, according to a July 7 news release from the Justice Department.

At two facilities where Dr. Santerio served as medical director, Compass Detox in Pembroke Pines, Fla., and WAR (We Are Recovery) Network in Hallandale Beach, Fla., Dr. Santerio and others took part in:

  1. Admitting patients for medically unnecessary detox services, the most expensive treatments the facilities offered
  2. Using patient recruiters who offered kickbacks to induce patients to attend the programs and then gave them illegal drugs to ensure admittance for detox
  3. Submitting false and fraudulent claims for excessive, medically unnecessary urinalysis drug tests that were never used in treatment 
  4. Authorizing the readmission of patients for unnecessary treatment to fraudulently bill for as much as possible.
  5. Sedating patients to ensure they stayed at the facility
  6. Allowing others to sign electronic medical files to make it appear as if Dr. Santeiro had provided treatment himself when he did not

Two co-defendants who worked as patient recruiters, Jonathan and Daniel Markovich, were convicted in an earlier trial in November 2021 and sentenced to 188 months and 97 months in prison, respectively. 

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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