The former CFO and COO of Atrium Medical Center and Pristine Healthcare, Starsky Bomer, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in a scheme that defrauded Medicare out of $16 million. Between 2011 and 2013, Bomer allegedly aided in a fraudulent scheme involving inappropriate billings to government programs for hospital care services.
After a five-day trial that took place last year, the 46-year-old Houston-area administrator was found guilty of conspiring to commit healthcare fraud and pay kickbacks in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute. Bomer had to wait nearly a year for sentencing. The case was heard by the Southern District of Texas. Besides sentencing him to prison, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore ordered him to pay over $6,275,000 in restitution and to forfeit about $158,000.
At the heart of the conspiracy was Atrium and Pristine’s partial hospitalization program (PHP). This type of program is designed to provide appropriate outpatient treatment for individuals suffering from severe mental conditions. According to the evidence presented in court, Bomer caused the companies to submit to the government hundreds of false claims for payment for pricey PHP services.
The fraudulent scheme orchestrated by Bomer involved paying kickbacks to patient recruiters and group home administrators in exchange for referrals of Medicare beneficiaries to Pristine and Atrium’s PHPs.
According to the evidence introduced at trial, Bomer then disguised the illegal kickbacks as payroll and transportation expenses. In addition, many of the patients referred to the PHPs were ineligible for this type of program and/or never received any partial hospital services.
Bomer was Chief Operations Officer/Chief Financial Officer at Pristine Hospital and Atrium Medical Center between 2011 and August 2014. His Linkedin profile states that he was, at the time, “Responsible at both hospitals for financial functions, business office, contract negotiations, registration, central scheduling, engineering and environmental services, information systems, materials management, utilization, medical records departments and three rural health clinics.”
The profile also states that one of the former hospital administrator’s most successful endeavors was building an “outpatient PHP program to over 200 patients a day.”
Bomer’s online CV also boasts that during his first month at Atrium, the company, which had “never collected over $2 million before,” collected $3.6 million. In light of the evidence that led to his conviction, it becomes clear that Bomer’s tactics to boost profits for his employers were mostly on the wrong side of the law.
After leaving Pristine, Bomer held various positions in the industry. His professional profile lists his current job as “Medical Service Corps Officer at the United States Air Force.” It now seems remarkable that he should have been employed by the government while the investigation was ongoing. In his last known position, Bomer played “a critical role leading and managing one of the nation’s largest, most diverse healthcare systems.”
When the defendant was found guilty, FBI Houston said on Twitter that, “Starsky D. Bomer, a Houston-area hospital administrator, was convicted for his role in a $16 million #MedicareFraud scheme. He and others are accused of defrauding Medicare by submitting some $16 million in false and fraudulent claims.”
Bomer’s harsh prison sentence is a clear indication that the Medicare Fraud Strike Force will continue to focus on healthcare fraud in general and anti-kickback violations in particular. Since it was created in 2007, the Strike Force has charged over 4,000 defendants. Over the years, these companies and individuals have billed Medicare for over $14 billion. Starsky Bomer has now joined the long list of administrators and healthcare workers who have been convicted of Texas Medicaid and Medicare fraud.
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