Doylestown Man Sentenced to Prison and $3 Million in Restitution for Drug Treatment Fraud
A Doylestown man has been sentenced to 37 months in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud connected to operating substance abuse treatment facilities in the Philadelphia region, U.S Attorney William M. McSwain announced last week.
Branden Coluccio, 37, will pay restitution in the amount of $3,070,157, forfeiture in the amount of $110,000, and an additional $15,000 fine, scheme involving Liberation Way, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization with treatment centers in Yardley, Bala Cynwyd, and Fort Washington.
United States District Judge Wendy Beetlestone presided over the sentencing hearing in Philadelphia via video teleconference.
Investigators exposed a myriad of health care schemes committed by individuals connected to the treatment facility including that of its medical director, prosecutors say including an elaborate kick-back scheme involving thousands of medically-unnecessary urine tests which were sent to Florida-based laboratories for analysis.
Coluccio, a co-founder of Liberation Way, participated in yet another scheme by fraudulently purchasing premium insurance policies for prospective patients on their behalf, which then allowed Liberation Way to bill insurance companies for expensive “treatment” purportedly provided to these patients. Liberation Way represented that the patients were buying and paying for these policies, when in reality Liberation Way was paying the premiums, which is illegal.
11 employees of the treatment facility were arrested in 2019 for their roles in what prosecutors described as a “massive fraud scheme” in criminal complaints filed with federal and state authorities.
Four other defendants — Dr. Dominick Braccia, Dr. Ramesh Sarvaiya, Jesse Peters, and Jason Gerner – have all pleaded guilty. The latter three have yet to be sentenced. Dr. Braccia was sentenced by Judge Beetlestone in September 2019 to a term of 37 months in prison.
The treatment facility which included “sober houses” closed its doors in April 2019.
As made clear by today’s sentencing, my Office will not tolerate health care fraud in any form,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Those who think that they can exploit our health care system and take advantage of at-risk patients are criminals and will face the consequences. Coluccio will rightly spend years in prison and pay millions of dollars as the result of his criminal conduct.”
“Branden Coluccio conspired with others in a health care fraud scheme by unlawfully purchasing premium insurance policies for prospective patients. The scheme allowed Liberation Way, an organization with several drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, to bill insurance companies for expensive treatment allegedly provided to patients. We will continue to work with our law enforcement officers to protect the integrity of health care benefits,” stated Derek Pickle, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Philadelphia Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Beam Winter and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Labar and Kristy Christ.