Florida businessman admits to role in 0M health care fraud scheme

Florida businessman admits to role in $100M health care fraud scheme

A Florida businessman involved in nearly $100 million of health care fraud pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Pittsburgh.

Daniel Hurt, 58, of Fort Lauderdale, pleaded guilty in three separate cases before U.S. District Judge W. Scott Hardy to charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

He will be sentenced on Jan. 23.

Under federal advisory sentencing guidelines, Hurt faces a prison term of about 12-1/2 years. He also has agreed to pay $97 million in restitution, as well as forfeit a luxury watercraft he bought with about $3 million in illegal proceeds called “In My DNA.”

Hurt remains free on a $350,000 personal surety bond pending sentencing. He was charged in cases in Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Florida.

According to federal prosecutors in the Pittsburgh case, Hurt conspired to submit $25 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for unnecessary cancer genome screenings through Ellwood City Medical Center.

Between January and October 2019, the government said, Medicare reimbursed the facility for the testing submitted on behalf of more than 4,000 people.

As part of the scheme, Hurt, who had an ownership interest in four different labs in Florida, Maryland and Colorado, paid companies to be used as “marketers” to offer health fairs and free genetic testing at long-term care facilities. The marketers would obtain cheek swabs for testing to be submitted to the labs.

The government said the marketers contacted thousands of Medicare beneficiaries across the country to collect samples.

Hurt would then offer kickbacks to the marketers for their efforts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The swabs would be sent to the Ellwood City facility, but it did not have the proper equipment on-site to do that type of testing.

Hurt would instead direct staff at the hospital to repackage the samples and send them to third-party labs.

He received kickbacks and then shared millions of dollars from those kickbacks with the marketers.

In the New Jersey case, Hurt is accused in a scheme in which approximately 25,000 fraudulent claims were submitted to Medicare, which paid at least $53.5 million for cancer genomic testing.

Hurt owned several clinical labs that conducted tests, and he paid kickbacks and bribes to entities that provided referrals and orders for genomic testing without medical necessity.

Those labs then submitted claims to Medicare for payment.

Hurt received at least $26.8 million from those schemes, according to the government’s summary of the case.

The allegations in the Florida case date to the fall of 2014. There, Hurt was involved in a scheme in which patients were solicited to accept medically unnecessary prescriptions for compounded medications paid for by two different health care benefit programs. As part of that fraud, the government said, Hurt traveled to Utah to meet with individuals associated with a telemedicine service linked to the fraud and paid doctors who wrote the unnecessary prescriptions.

Paula Reed Ward is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paula by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .