Pennsylvania Man Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison and Over $3 Million in Restitution for Health Care Fraud Scheme
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Branden Coluccio, 32, of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to 37 months in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud. As part of his sentence, he was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,070,157, forfeiture in the amount of $110,000, and an additional $15,000 fine. United States District Judge Wendy Beetlestone presided over the sentencing hearing in Philadelphia via video teleconference. This scheme involved Liberation Way, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization that had treatment centers in Yardley, Bala Cynwyd, and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.
The investigation exposed an array of health care fraud schemes committed by individuals associated with Liberation Way, including an over-billing scheme connected with the facility’s medical director, as well as an elaborate kick-back scheme involving thousands of medically-unnecessary urine tests which were sent to Florida-based laboratories for analysis. Coluccio, a co-founder of Liberation Way, participated in yet another scheme by fraudulently purchasing premium insurance policies for prospective patients on their behalf, which then allowed Liberation Way to bill insurance companies for expensive “treatment” purportedly provided to these patients. Liberation Way represented that the patients were buying and paying for these policies, when in reality Liberation Way was paying the premiums, which is illegal.
“As made clear by today’s sentencing, my Office will not tolerate health care fraud in any form,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Those who think that they can exploit our health care system and take advantage of at-risk patients are criminals and will face the consequences. Coluccio will rightly spend years in prison and pay millions of dollars as the result of his criminal conduct.”
“Coluccio schemed to defraud health care programs by manipulating vulnerable patients,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Instead he will spend years behind bars and restitute millions in stolen money. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect vital health and human service programs and the individuals they serve.”
“Coluccio used vulnerable patients as pawns in his scheme to defraud insurance plans of millions of dollars,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “He’s now being held to account for his criminal deceptions at Liberation Way, sentenced to several years behind bars. If you steal from our country’s essential healthcare system, know that the FBI, alongside our state and federal partners, is committed to shutting you down and bringing you to justice.”
“Branden Coluccio conspired with others in a health care fraud scheme by unlawfully purchasing premium insurance policies for prospective patients. The scheme allowed Liberation Way, an organization with several drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, to bill insurance companies for expensive treatment allegedly provided to patients. We will continue to work with our law enforcement officers to protect the integrity of health care benefits,” stated Derek Pickle, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Philadelphia Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.
“The defendant took advantage of people struggling with addiction to profit off the opioid epidemic ravaging Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Our office is fighting this scourge on all fronts. My thanks to our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and other agencies in Pennsylvania and Florida for their diligence and dedication to this investigation and the punishments we’ve secured for these bad actors.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Beam Winter and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Labar and Kristy Christ.