Two brothers who ran addiction treatment facilities in South Florida have been convicted in a $112 million fraud scheme, federal prosecutors said.
Jonathan Markovich, 37, and Daniel Markovich, 33, both of Bal Harbour, were found guilty by a federal jury in the Southern District of Florida following a seven-week trial, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release Thursday.
The release said the Markovich brothers, who operated Compass Detox, an inpatient detox and residential facility, and WAR Network LLC, a related outpatient treatment program, fraudulently billed about $112 million for services that were never provided or were medically unnecessary, and paid kickbacks to patients through patient recruiters and received kickbacks from testing laboratories.
Jonathan Markovich, who owned both facilities, was also convicted of bank fraud in connection with PPP loan applications in which he falsely stated that Compass Detox and WAR were not engaged in illegal conduct, the release said.
Prosecutors said the brothers found patients through recruiters who offered illegal kickbacks to patients, including airline tickets, illegal drugs, and cash. The patients would be shuffled between the two facilities so the brothers could fraudulently bill for as much as possible.
Recruiters gave patients illegal drugs prior to admission to Compass Detox to ensure they'd be admitted for detox, which was the most expensive kind of treatment offered by the defendants’ facilities, prosecutors said.
Therapy sessions were billed for but not regularly provided or attended, and excessive, medically unnecessary urinalysis drug tests were ordered, for patients, prosecutors said.
Patients were also given a so-called "Comfort Drink" to sedate them, and to keep them coming back, along with large and potentially harmful amounts of controlled substances, prosecutors said. Certain patients were also routinely re-admitted and repeatedly cycled through Compass Detox and WAR to maximize revenue, the release said.
“Their tactics were brazen and the dollar losses immense," Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of FBI’s Miami Field Office said in a statement. "These health care fraudsters, driven by greed, sought to cheat their way to riches by billing tens of millions of dollars from various health care programs."
Both brothers were convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. Jonathan Markovich was convicted of eight counts of health care fraud and Daniel Markovich was convicted of two counts of health care fraud. They were also convicted of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks and two counts of paying and receiving kickbacks.
Jonathan Markovich was separately convicted of conspiring to commit money laundering, two counts of concealment money laundering, and six counts of laundering at least $10,000 in proceeds of unlawful activities, as well as two counts of bank fraud related to his fraudulently obtaining PPP loans for both Compass Detox and WAR during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Defense attorneys for the brothers denounced the verdicts Thursday.
"What happened today is a miscarriage of justice, and we intend to fight to reverse such wrongdoing," Jonathan Markovich's attorney, Vanessa Singh Johannes, said in a statement. She added that the government "focused their prosecution on the Markovichs' hard earned wealth, which is not a crime in America."
"The verdict is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented at trial," said Marissel Descalzo, attorney for Daniel Markovich. "I will appeal the verdict. I will continue to fight tirelessly to clear Daniel Markovich's name."
The brothers are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 13, 2022, and face the possibility of decades behind bars. A related trial is expected to begin in February for four others charged in the case.
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