Fraud scheme’s ‘CFO’ gets 5 years in prison; lesser player gets 4 months

A federal judge on Monday sentenced Steven Ganote, a key player in the massive American Senior Communities overbilling and and kickback scheme, to five years in prison and ordered him to pay $7 million in restitution.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt also doled out punishment to Joshua Burkhart, the younger brother of the fraud's mastermind, former American Senior Communities CEO James Burkhart. She sentenced Joshua Burkhart to four months in prison and ordered him to pay $420,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors had cast Joshua Burkhart as a relative bit player in the fraud, but characterized Ganote, a friend of James Burkhart’s, as a key participant.

“If James Burkhart was the conspiracy’s CEO, then Steve Ganote was the CFO, and then some,” the government said in a sentencing memorandum. “He managed the conspiracy’s numerous bank accounts and its proverbial ‘second set of books,’ which he maintained by hand.”

Prosecutors unveiled charges in the fall of 2016 against James Burkhart, former American Senior Communities Chief Operating Officer Dan Benson, Joshua Burkhart and Ganote—alleging they brazenly orchestrated a $19 million overbilling and kickback scheme that ran from 2009 to 2015.

The victims of the fraud were American Senior Communities, the state’s largest nursing home company, which is owned by the Jackson family of Indianapolis; the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County, which hired ASC to operate its nearly 70 nursing homes; and federal health care programs, the indictment alleges.

Pratt sentenced Benson last Friday to 57 months in prison. A week earlier, she doled out a 9-1/2-year sentence to James Burkhart.

Authorities say the four used shell companies and inflated invoices to enrich themselves.

The kickbacks covered all sorts of purchased goods and services, from landscaping and nurse call lights to American flags and pharmacy and hospice services.

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