Baton Rouge Laboratory Owner and Florida Woman Charged with Scheme to Pay and Receive Health Care Kickbacks as Part of National Enforcement Action
United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announced that U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson sentenced Victor Clark Kirk, age 73, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to 82 months in federal prison following his convictions for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud. The Court further sentenced Kirk to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $1,841,527.31 to the Louisiana Medicaid Program.
After a six-day trial, the jury unanimously convicted Kirk of defrauding the Louisiana Medicaid Program of over $1.8 million and causing false medical diagnoses of children. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Kirk was the CEO of St. Gabriel Health Clinic, Inc. (St. Gabriel), a Louisiana non-profit corporation that provided health care services to Medicaid recipients. St. Gabriel operated in local elementary and high schools to provide routine medical services. Evidence at trial showed that St. Gabriel practitioners, at Kirk’s direction, also provided educational programs—including a program called “Character Counts!”—to entire classrooms of students during regular class periods. These educational classes taught students character traits such as respect and trustworthiness. However, evidence at trial showed that for several years, Kirk caused the fraudulent billing of these programs to Medicaid as group psychotherapy. The evidence further showed that to facilitate the fraudulent scheme, Kirk directed that St. Gabriel practitioners falsely diagnose students, including children as young as kindergartners, with serious mental health disorders, such as impulse control disorder and attention deficit disorder. From 2011 through 2015, Kirk caused over $1.8 million in fraudulent claims for purported group psychotherapy services.
“The sentencing of Victor Kirk demonstrates that no one is above the law,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. “Health Care Fraud is a serious problem and I commend the trial team and all of our partners who worked tirelessly to ensure justice for not only the patients but taxpayers as well.”
“Criminals must be punished for their crimes, and today justice was served to Mr. Kirk,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. “Our office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect our State’s most vulnerable and the taxpayers who fund their welfare.”
“It is especially egregious to commit fraud on the backs of children, and all to fund a lifestyle Kirk did not earn or deserve,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Jason Meadows of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “The damage Kirk inflicted on these kids is immeasurable and may follow them for years. Patient harm is a top priority of HHS/OIG and we will work with our law enforcement partners to relentlessly pursue those who perpetrate it.”
“Instead of using the Louisiana Medicaid Program for its intended purpose, Victor Clark Kirk, the CEO of St. Gabriel Health Clinic, sought to enrich himself by defrauding Medicaid of over a million dollars through the submission of false diagnoses for pediatric patients,” said Douglas A. Williams, Special Agent in Charge, FBI New Orleans. “We thank our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Louisiana; Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section; Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General; and the Louisiana Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for their strong partnerships and dedication to investigating Medicaid fraudsters.”
The Louisiana Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, HHS-OIG, and FBI investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Gulf Coast Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana.
Assistant Chief Justin M. Woodard and Trial Attorney Kelly Z. Walters of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen L. Craig for the Middle District of Louisiana prosecuted the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s efforts to combat health care fraud through the Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program. Since March 2007, this program, comprised of 15 strike forces operating in 25 federal districts, has charged more than 5,000 defendants who collectively have billed federal health care programs and private insurers more than $24 billion. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, are taking steps to hold providers accountable for their involvement in health care fraud schemes. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.