‘Horrific’ moneymaking scheme shuttled sick, elderly between nursing homes and hospitals at taxpayer expense.
Dr. Roland Borrasi chuckled as he told three doctors how he used kickbacks and cash bribes to shuttle unsuspecting nursing home residents into Chicago-area hospitals and psychiatric wards.
"Basically, I have a commodity; my commodity is nursing home patients," Borrasi explained.
He didn't know it at the time, but federal agents were secretly recording that meeting.
One of the doctors was wearing a wire as Borrasi matter-of-factly explained the mechanics of patient brokering to physicians in his medical group.
Those recordings, along with court documents and federal investigative reports obtained by the Tribune, describe a web of corruption in which hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed among doctors, nursing home executives and hospital administrators as the facility operators sought to fill their beds with a steady flow of destitute patients.
While taxpayers paid millions of dollars in fraudulent Medicaid and Medicare bills, one Alzheimer's patient was given inappropriate brain radiation treatments, a Borrasi associate told federal agents. A second patient, a disoriented elderly woman, was sent to an acute psychiatric ward after she refused to eat in her nursing home dining hall, another medical professional told federal agents.
"The fact that … greed subordinated the care of elderly and infirm patients who really needed it is horrific at best," federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing earlier this year after Borrasi was sentenced for accepting more than $500,000 in kickbacks to steer vulnerable patients. Prosecutors described "the scope and breadth of the bribes" as "extraordinary."
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Cashing in on Frail Patients