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Four indicted in American Senior Communities billing probe

October 12, 2016

The former CEO of American Senior Communities and three other men have been indicted on felony charges following a year-long investigation by the FBI and other federal agencies into the company’s billing practices.

Former CEO James Burkhart was arrested at his Carmel home Wednesday morning. He and the other three indicted men—former Chief Operating Officer Dan Benson, Josh Burkhart and Steve Ganote—are expected to make initial appearances Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Tim Baker.

American Senior Communities, the state’s largest nursing home company, fired Burkhart and Benson days after the FBI raided Burkhart’s home and the company's offices in September 2015. 

Josh Burkhart, who is James Burkhart’s brother, and Ganote did not work at the company. Their alleged connection to wrongdoing was not immediately clear. Indictments spelling out charges are not yet unsealed.

Burkhart, 52, had been CEO of American Senior since 2002, helping to build it from a money-losing, midsize nursing home company into the state’s dominant nursing home operator. It operates nearly 100 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities that generate more than $600 million a year in revenue. 

Those operations include running 63 nursing homes for the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, parent of Eskenzi Health, which owns the facilities and pays American Senior to manage them.

Sources with knowledge of the FBI’s investigation told IBJ last year that it was focusing on whether Burkhart or anyone else at American Senior received kickbacks from vendors that provided products and services to the nursing homes American Senior operates. 

Larry Mackey, a Barnes & Thornburg attorney representing Burkhart, could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

American Senior is owned by the Jackson family of Indianapolis. Over the years, the company's diverse business interests have ranged from grocery stores to car dealerships to apartments.

The company—whose ubiquitous TV ads salute the accomplishments of seniors—employs nearly 10,000 people. 

This story will be updated.

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