Addiction Treatment Facilities’ Medical Director Sentenced in $112 Million Addiction Treatment Fraud Scheme
A Florida doctor was sentenced today to 54 months in prison for engaging in a scheme that fraudulently billed approximately $112 million for substance abuse services that were never provided or were medically unnecessary.
According to court documents, Jose Santeiro, 62, of Miami Lakes, worked with others to unlawfully bill for approximately $112 million of addiction treatment services that were never rendered and/or were medically unnecessary at two addiction treatment facilities where Santeiro was the medical director. The facilities were Second Chance Detox LLC, dba Compass Detox (Compass Detox), an inpatient detox and residential facility, and WAR Network LLC (WAR), a related outpatient treatment program.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Santeiro and others admitted patients for medically unnecessary detox services, the most expensive kind of treatment the facilities offered. Patient recruiters offered kickbacks to induce patients to attend the programs and then gave them illegal drugs to ensure admittance for detox at Compass Detox. Evidence at trial also showed that Santeiro submitted false and fraudulent claims for excessive, medically unnecessary urinalysis drug tests that were never used in treatment. Santeiro and others then authorized the re-admission of a core group of patients who were shuffled between Compass Detox and WAR to fraudulently bill for as much as possible, even though the patients did not need the expensive treatment for which they were repeatedly admitted. Santeiro also prescribed Compass Detox patients a so-called “Comfort Drink” to sedate them, ensure they stayed at the facility, and keep them coming back. The evidence further showed that Santeiro’s log-in was used, with his knowledge, by others to sign electronic medical files to make it appear as if Santeiro had provided treatment himself when he did not.
After a 15-day trial in March 2022, Santeiro was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, and eight counts of health care fraud. Two other co-defendants, Jonathan and Daniel Markovich, were convicted in an earlier trial in November 2021 and sentenced to 188 months and 97 months in prison, respectively. Richard Waserstein, an attorney, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced to 13 months in prison. Drew Lieberman, another doctor, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and was sentenced to 13 months in prison. Christopher Garnto pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud and was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; and Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.
The FBI’s Miami Field Office, HHS-OIG, and the Broward County Sherriff’s Office investigated the case.
Senior Litigation Counsel Jim Hayes and Trial Attorneys Jamie de Boer and Andrea Savdie of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case.
The National Rapid Response Strike Force, Los Angeles Strike Force, and Miami Strike Force lead the Department of Justice’s Sober Homes Initiative, which prosecutes defendants who exploit vulnerable patients seeking treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction.