The Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center has agreed to pay $300,000 to the federal government to resolve claim that former employees violated the False Claims Act.
“Our office worked with Brookdale to arrive at a fair and just resolution that holds Brookdale accountable while crediting its cooperation,” said Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York.
The United States alleges that between 2010 and 2016, former Brookdale employees, including the former program director, defrauded Brookdale’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
“The WIC program was created to provide food and nutrition to those who truly need this assistance,” said Bethanne Dinkins, special agent-in-charge with the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG). “Those who are involved in fraud and abuse of USDA-funded programs will be investigated by our office to the fullest extent. Our joint investigation with the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Special Investigations identified those who sought to defraud WIC. USDA- OIG will continue to dedicate investigative resources, working with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners, in order to protect the integrity of these programs.”
The former employees allegedly violated the False Claims Act in the following ways:
- By allowing ineligible persons to qualify for WIC benefits
- By misappropriating WIC program funds
- By falsifying time sheets and other records concerning work purportedly performed by breastfeeding peer counselors
- By falsifying budget records to inflate Brookdale’s purported requirements for WIC funds
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.
According to Peace, Brookdale fully cooperated with the investigation. The settlement, which sees Brookdale pay $300,000, was approved by U.S. district judge I. Leo Glasser on May 18.
“This settlement demonstrates our office’s commitment to holding healthcare providers accountable when their employees engage in misconduct that defrauds federal programs like the USDA-funded WIC program,” said Peace.
The settlement also includes the resolution of a civil action brought under the qui tam or whistle blower provisions of the False Claims Act against Brookdale.
Under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, a private party can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the settlement if the government takes over the case and reaches a monetary agreement with the defendant.
The government’s case was handled by assistant U.S. attorney Michael Castiglione.