Physician Charged with 210 Counts of Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – Ona M. Colasante, 57, a physician from Gainesville, Florida, surrendered yesterday on charges contained in a federal indictment. U.S. Attorney Pamela C. Marsh announced the grand jury charges, which include 199 counts of health care fraud, three counts of introduction or delivery of misbranded drugs, three counts of introduction or delivery of unapproved new drugs, and five counts of money laundering.
According to the indictment, Colasante owned and operated a medical business known as the Hawthorne Medical Center in Hawthorne, Florida, from approximately 1998 until March 2009, and the Colasante Clinic on NW 16th Avenue in Gainesville, Florida, from approximately January 2010 until January 2013. During her operation of these medical businesses, Colasante is charged with having submitted or caused to be submitted fraudulent claims to health care benefit programs for medically unnecessary tests and procedures and medical services not rendered or provided, and thereafter receiving reimbursement for the fraudulent claims. These programs included Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. It is further alleged that while operating the Clinic, Colasante used some of the proceeds from the fraudulent health care claims to purchase non-FDA-approved drugs and devices from pharmacies located outside the United States. According to the indictment, Colasante then submitted or caused to be submitted fraudulent claims to health care benefit programs for the administration of the non-FDA-approved drugs. It is further alleged that the non-FDA-approved drugs were being administered to patients of the Colasante Clinic without their knowledge or consent.
Colasante made her initial appearance on the charges before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary R. Jones at the U.S. District Courthouse in Gainesville yesterday. The trial is scheduled for June 17, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker at the U.S. District Courthouse in Gainesville.
If convicted of charges in the filed indictment, Colasante faces a term of up to 10 years imprisonment for each of the health care fraud counts, up to three years imprisonment for each of the FDA violations, and up to 10 years imprisonment for each of the money laundering counts. She also faces fines and forfeiture of assets on each count.
This indictment is the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit; and the Food and Drug Administration. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany H. Eggers.
An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.