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Press Release

Owner of Garfield Counseling Center Admits Orchestrating Health Care Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – The owner of a New Jersey counseling center today admitted her role in a health care fraud scheme involving hundreds of false claims, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced. 

Maria P. Cosentino, 60, of Garfield, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to an information charging her with participating in a health care fraud scheme.

“Patients need to be able to use their health insurance plans to obtain needed services. This defendant admitted today that she falsified claims in order to boost her payments, in some cases, making up visits for counseling and other treatments out of whole cloth. My office is determined to root out those who would try to rig the system for ill-gotten profits.”

U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger

“Fraudsters compromise the integrity of our health care system and necessary treatment programs,” FBI – Newark Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said. “Cosentino now admits she billed private health insurance companies for sessions with patients who no longer attended her practice, were out of the country, or didn't even exist. Everyone ends up bearing the cost of these scams which drain billions of dollars annually from the healthcare industry. We ask if you have any information about similar fraud, call the Newark FBI so we can take action.”

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

Cosentino owned Bergen Alliance Counseling Services, which provided counseling services and mental health treatment to children, families, couples, and adults. She admitted that for years she submitted false claims to private health insurance plans for counseling sessions that she never provided. Cosentino falsely claimed that various individuals had received counseling at the center when in fact they had been out of the country, had ceased attending the practice, or had never visited the counseling center at all. The false claims caused insurance plans to issue reimbursement checks to the center even though the individuals had never received any treatment. Cosentino kept the illicit profits, which totaled more than $700,000. 

The charge of health care fraud is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of either $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for July 23, 2024.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney DeNae Thomas of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.



Updated March 19, 2024

Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-098