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Press Release

Iowa Nursing Facility, Its Ownership, and Its Management Agree to Pay $100,000 to Resolve Allegations that Residents Received Worthless Care

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

The Abbey of Le Mars, Inc., and other individuals with financial interests in the Abbey’s operations, agreed to pay $100,000 to settle allegations they violated the False Claims Act by submitting or causing claims to be submitted to Medicaid when the care provided to nursing facility residents was so grossly substandard that the care was worthless and effectively without value.


The allegations relate to care provided for sixteen residents between January 2009 and February 2015. The government alleged that the care the Abbey provided was grossly substandard in multiple material ways:


  1. providers failed to address skin conditions and fractures, leading to inadequate care and additional medical costs;
  2. residents were subjected in the first instance to physical restraints and unnecessary medications rather than other types of interventions;

  3. providers utilized anti-psychotic medications to numb or sedate residents so as to decrease residents’ needs; and

  4. residents were not given adequate nourishment or bathing and toileting care, leading to infections and impactions necessitating emergency room visits.


The individuals signing the agreement include Leo Lenaghan, who owns the building where the Abbey operates; John Florina, Jr., who was a paid consultant to the Abbey; Janet Howe, the Abbey’s president; Don Butcher, who worked as the Abbey’s administrator; and the Abbey’s former director of nursing, Donna Stuhrenberg.


The False Claims Act settlement agreement only resolves government claims related to the alleged submission of claims for payment to Medicaid when the services provided were worthless and effectively without value. Other government claims are not released.


“Nursing facility residents deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and attentive care sufficient to meet their medical needs and support their mental health,” said United States Attorney Kevin W. Techau. “This settlement demonstrates the commitment of the Northern District of Iowa United States Attorney’s Office to defending the integrity of the system and ensuring that taxpayer money is spent as Congress intended. We will continue to work with our federal and state partners to hold nursing facility owners, administrators, and employees across the district accountable if they are responsible for nursing facility residents being mistreated or if Medicaid or Medicare payments are wasted or misspent.”


The investigation and settlement are part of the Department of Justice’s Elder Abuse Initiative. In March 2016, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa was selected as one of ten districts nationwide to launch regional Elder Justice Task Forces. The Elder Justice Task Forces reflect the department’s larger strategy and commitment to protecting our nation’s seniors, spearheaded by the department’s Elder Justice Initiative. The Elder Justice Initiative coordinates and supports the Department’s law enforcement efforts and policy activities on elder justice issues. It plays an integral role in the department’s investigative and enforcement efforts against nursing homes and other long-term care entities that deliver grossly substandard care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa has rededicated its efforts and resources to investigate and hold accountable those who have been involved in activities incompatible with ensuring that the state’s more vulnerable citizens are treated with dignity and respect.


The investigation was led by the State of Iowa Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and conducted in conjunction with the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.


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Updated February 9, 2017

Elder Justice
Health Care Fraud