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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Monday, August 20, 2018

Two Additional Defendants Sentenced in Conspiracy that Looted Money from Nonprofit Mental Health Clinic

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that two additional former employees of the Juniata Community Mental Health Clinic (“JCMHC”) were sentenced today for their roles in the conspiracy led by Renee Tartaglione to steal money from JCMHC.

Sandy Acosta, former Administrator of JCMHC, and Amalia Rodriguez, former billing clerk for JCMHC, were sentenced today to 18 months and 6 months in federal prison, respectively. The two women were also ordered to pay $793,000 in restitution to the Pennsylvania Attorney General in trust for a successor to JCMHC, jointly and severally with the financial obligations previously imposed on others responsible for the same fraud and theft.

“The defendants worked together to cheat economically disadvantaged people with mental health issues out of funds that were intended to provide treatment and other services,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Instead, the defendants used these funds for their own personal enrichment, depriving others of help that they desperately needed. This was a gross abuse of the trust placed in these defendants, and I am glad that my Office and our law enforcement partners have held them accountable for their crimes.”

“Sandy Acosta and Amalia Rodriguez facilitated Renee Tartaglione’s theft of over $2 million from important taxpayer-funded programs for individuals in need of mental health treatment,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski. “Their convictions and today’s sentences demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to work with our federal and state partners to hold accountable those who seek to line their own pockets by defrauding institutions that serve vulnerable individuals.”

“Looting money from Medicare strains the system and cheats the taxpayers who fund it,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “This conspiracy diverted funds meant for mental health treatment for the community’s underserved—a serious breach of trust, and of the law. The FBI is committed to fighting health care fraud, one case at a time, and seeing perpetrators held accountable.”

Ms. Acosta and Ms. Rodriguez helped steal money that was allotted for the treatment of mental health patients; depriving them of much needed mental health services,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent In Charge Guy Ficco. “Their sentences are indications of how unacceptable their actions were. IRS-Criminal Investigation is proud to have joined forces with our law enforcement partners to bring these defendants to justice.”

“I am pleased to partner with U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain to investigate, prosecute and root out public corruption wherever we find it,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “In this case, one of our legal experts provided testimony and will assist in the restitution process. This type of collaboration is key to protecting our democracy and ensuring honest government. I commend U.S. Attorney McSwain for his fine leadership.”

Sandy Acosta previously pled guilty to wire fraud, theft from a health care benefit program, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Rodriguez previously pled guilty to wire fraud, theft from a health care benefit program, and aggravated identity theft.  The charges arose out of the women’s agreement to cash unearned checks from JCMHC and give the cash to Renee Tartaglione, who at the time was President of the Board of Directors of JCMHC.   

This case was investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the Philadelphia Office of the Inspector General, with additional assistance from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bea L. Witzleben and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Peter Halpern.

Public Corruption
Updated August 20, 2018