PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (WWLP)– The operators of a chain of addiction treatment centers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been charged in a Rhode Island federal court on multiple counts of healthcare fraud.
Michael Brier, 60, of Newton, MA, Mi Ok Bruining, 62, of Warwick, RI, and Recovery Connections Centers of America, Inc. (RCCA) are charged with health care fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and obstruction. Additionally, Brier was charges with aggravated identity theft, money laundering and obstruction.
According to the RCCA website, they have clinics in Attleboro, Brocton, Burlington, Dartmouth, Dedham, Fall River, Hyannis, Natick, Pawtucket, Plymouth, Providence, Boston, Springfield, Taunton and Worcester.
According to prosecutors, the defendants did not provide patients with the required counseling sessions and treatment, but billed Medicare, Medicaid and other health care payors for 45-minute counseling sessions on a routine basis even though the sessions were not more than 15 minutes, and often only 5-10 minutes or less. At times, so many counseling sessions were billed at this level that the total amount of time would be impossible for the available therapist to have provided in any 24 hours period.
Brier and RCCA are also alleged to have filed a fraudulent application to Medicare which, among other things, misrepresented and concealed the role that Brier was playing in the business and failed to disclose Brier’s 2013 criminal conviction for federal tax crimes, which could have impeded the application.
The complaint alleges that Brier purported to practice medicine and wrote and caused to be filled fraudulent prescriptions using the names and prescriber information, including Drug Enforcement Administration numbers, of doctors without their permission. He is also alleged to have falsified a document in a matter within the jurisdiction of an agency of the United States by causing the Medical Director to sign a false and back-dated document.
Investigators say the defendants submitted millions of dollars in fraudulent billings to Medicare to other health care payors.
At a news conference on Thursday, United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha commented, “What makes the fraud scheme that we have charged today particularly pernicious – is that not only was this scheme, as we allege, designed to defraud by enriching these defendants with federal and private healthcare dollars they did not earn, but that in the process it cheated a vulnerable population of recovery patients out of the full, genuine support and treatment that they need to have a chance at recovery.”
The government is also seeking the accused to forfeit thirteen bank accounts, two buildings, and two vehicles allegedly realized by the defendants as a result of the alleged criminal conduct.
Rhode Island RCCA patients in need of a new or immediate bridge prescription are urged to call (401) 606-5454; Rhode Island patients in need of behavioral health referrals for physicians, counselor, or clinic information may call (410) 414-LINK.
RCCA patients in Massachusetts patients in need of a new or immediate bridge prescription are urged to call (617) 414-4175; Massachusetts patients in need of behavioral health referrals for physicians, counselor, or other services may call (800) 327-5050 or use helplinema.com.