A U.S. District Court judge sentenced a former CEO of defrauding American Senior Communities among other entities. James Burkhart will spend 9½ in years in prison for fraud. Burkhart is one of four people accused of a massive fraud and kickback scheme that netted $19 million dollars. Burkhart pleaded guilty in December after a years long investigation by the FBI. During that investigation, agents discovered safe deposit boxes at his office and home with 350 gold coins and gold bars, and more than $1 million cash. The FBI was tipped by a vendor who was approached about their fraud and kickback scheme. Burkhart has been considered the ringleader of the conspiracy and the public interest in his case has been great. In fact, the courtroom was standing room only for his sentencing. American Senior Communities filed suit, accusing Burkhart, other former top executives and former vendors for “systematically looting” the long-term care provider from 2008 to 2015. Also named in the lawsuit were the company’s former COO Daniel Benson, former CFO Roger Werner, Burkhart’s business associate Steven Ganote, and Burkhart’s brother Joshua Burkhart.
Authorities said that over a six-year period, the accused used shell companies to falsify and inflate costs of goods and services, allowing them to steal discounts and rebates, and conceal kickbacks. They have all agreed to plea deals to settle the investigation. Burkhart must also pay full restitution. Burkhart was board chairman of the Indiana Health Care Association at the time of the FBI raids. At the time, American Senior Communities operated nearly 100 skilled nursing, hospice and assisted living facilities in Indiana and Kentucky. The 4, including Buckhart, spent millions on sporting events, private flights and gift cards alone. They were indicted on charges of defrauding American Senior Communities, the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the local county health department, a health foundation and others.