Attorney #sentenced in $80M #health care #fraud

TAMPA — Former WellCare general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, 52, of Tampa, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for his role in a $80 million health care fraud scheme.

Bereday pleaded guilty June 26 to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program. His prison term will followed by a three-year term of supervised release that includes one year of home confinement, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office. He also was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

In March 2011, Bereday, along with former WellCare CEO Todd Farha; former WellCare CFO Paul Behrens; former WellCare Vice President William Kale; and former WellCare Vice President Peter Clay; were indicted on various federal criminal violations relating to a scheme to defraud the Florida Medicaid program. The statement says they made false and fraudulent statements about expenditure information for behavioral health care services in the company’s annual reports in order to reduce WellCare’s payback obligations.

WellCare operates HMOs in several states targeted to government-sponsored health care benefit programs like Medicaid. Two WellCare HMOs operating in Florida, StayWell and Healthease, contracted with Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration to provide Florida Medicaid Program recipients with an array of services, including behavioral health services, the release states.

A federal jury found Bereday’s co-defendants guilty on June 10, 2013. Farha was sentenced to 36 months in prison; Behrens received a 24-month sentence; Kale was sentenced to one year plus one day; and Clay received five years probation. WellCare, the corporation, under a deferred prosecution agreement, paid $40 million in restitution and forfeited another $40 million, according to the statement. The company also cooperated with the criminal investigation.

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