(ran SS edition of Metro & State)
The case involves brokering patients at the Manors in Tarpon Springs.
A former health care executive involved in illegally brokering patients into two Pinellas County hospitals has agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges and pay the U.S. government $1-million.
Barry Jay Goldstein, 56, agreed to plead guilty to various schemes to defraud the federal government by paying kickbacks for Medicare patients from 1988 to 1995.
Prosecutors say Goldstein and partner Douglas A. Miller paid or took hundreds of thousands of dollars for the referral of Medicare patients to psychiatric centers and addiction programs, and disguised the illegal activity with phony management contracts.
Goldstein and Miller were indicted on conspiracy charges inJune. Prosecutors dismissed those charges in Novemberandfiled against Miller new charges of making an illegal payment to a union official who supplied patients from a union membership.
In December, Miller agreed to plead guilty to the new charges and pay $500,000 in restitution and fines.
In a direct filing earlier this month, prosecutors charged Goldstein with conspiracy again. Still facing a maximum five-year prison sentence, Goldstein is settling civil charges brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa by agreeing to pay a fine of $250,000 and restitution to the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration of $750,000.
Goldstein also is cooperating with a grand jury investigation in return for a recommendation for a lighter sentence.
"There's no question he made his mistakes," Goldstein's attorney, Martin R. Raskin, said Monday. "But now he wants to be part of the solution and not part of the problem."
Raskin said Goldstein today is a businessman "gainfully employed" in South Florida but is no longer involved in health care.
In the early 1990s, however, Goldstein was the owner and operator of several hospitals and clinics providing psychiatric services, including Goldsel, Anclote Inc., the general partner of Anclote Psychiatric Hospital. The 130-bed Tarpon Springs hospital operated as the Manors before going out of business several years ago.
Goldstein and Miller illegally brokered patients into the Manors under a contract paying $195,000 a month. Goldstein's associates illegally paid the air fare for Medicare patients to travel to the Manors from Michigan, North Carolina and Colorado, records show.
Goldstein and Miller also supplied patients to a program at Sun Coast Hospital in Largo, which paid Goldstein $206,598 for the referrals in 1991.
A Polk County facility, Palmview hospital in Lakeland, made payments totaling $857,763 in 1994 and 1995 to a Goldstein company called Care Group in return for patient referrals.
Now in its sixth year, the federal patient-brokering investigation was sparked by a 1993 St. Petersburg Times series titled, "The Patient Pipeline." The series chronicled the stories of persons lured into inappropriate or unnecessary treatment at several Florida facilities, including the Manors.
Corporate records show Goldstein was a corporate partner in a brokering company called Recovery Health Corp. with two of the most influential patient brokers in the U.S.: Ft. Lauderdale physician Dr. Richard Tyson and Palm Beach businessman William Demaria Jr.
Demaria, a former heroin addict with organized crime ties in New Jersey, agreed in July to plead guilty to conspiracy charges and pay $1.825-million in fines and restitution. His sentencing is scheduled for April 4.
Tyson, put on probation by the state for freebasing cocaine and abusing Quaaludes in the 1980s, was sentenced two weeks ago to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.5-million in fines and restitution after pleading to conspiracy.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Montilla said the nationwide network of patient brokers collected an estimated $32-million in patient bounties, with about a third of that paid for Medicare patients.
_ Jeff Testerman can be reached at (813) 226-3407 or testermansptimes.com