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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 21, 2017

Gainesville Physician Sentenced for 162 Counts of Health Care Fraud

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – Ona M. Colasante, 60, a physician who formerly practiced in Gainesville, was sentenced Friday afternoon to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay a $1,134,000 fine and more than $1 million in restitution after being convicted on May 2, 2016, of 162 counts of health care fraud. As part of the sentence, the Court ordered that more than $1 million be forfeited to the government. Colasante was also ordered to perform 1,200 hours community service while serving a term of 3 years of supervised release. The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Colasante owned and operated medical businesses known as the Hawthorne Medical Center in Hawthorne, Florida, between 1998 and March 2009, and the Colasante Clinic in Gainesville, Florida, between January 2010 and January 2013. Through these businesses, Colasante defrauded Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida through a series of false billing schemes. During the five-week trial, the government presented evidence that Colasante, and employees acting at her direction, ordered non-FDA approved drugs at a drastically reduced price, administered them to unsuspecting patients, and then fraudulently billed insurance companies for the cost of FDA-approved drugs. The evidence showed that Colasante also billed insurance companies for medically unnecessary tests and submitted false diagnosis codes in support of her fraudulent claims for reimbursement.

In addition, Colasante billed insurance companies for counseling, treatment, and training that was never performed. Her businesses repeatedly submitted fraudulent billings for smoking-cessation treatment purportedly administered to patients who were non-smokers.

United States Attorney Canova praised the work of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Florida Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose joint investigation led to the convictions in this case.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tiffany H. Eggers and J. Ryan Love.

“Health care programs and patients depend on ethical practices by medical providers,” said United States Attorney Canova. “I commend the diligent investigators and prosecutors who uphold our federal laws and bring to justice those who abuse their positions of trust.” The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.

For more information, contact:
Amy Alexander, Public Information Officer
(850) 216-3854, amy.alexander@usdoj.gov

Topic(s): 
Health Care Fraud
Updated August 22, 2017