One of the co-founders of a fraudulent drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Yardley will spend three years behind bars. In addition, Jason Gerner must pay back more than $9 million in restitution.
Gerner, 46, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and several other charges.
As co-founder, Gerner was a central figure in the Liberation Way fraud scheme. He was fired from the CEO position in May 2018. The other co-founder, Dallas Fetterman, died of a drug overdose the same year.
Liberation Way generated $48 million in revenues for Gerner, Fetterman, and two other owners.
“My Office will not tolerate health care fraud in any form, especially the kind that takes advantage of at-risk patients and exploits their addictions,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain.
The vast majority of their ill-gotten gains came in the form of targeting out-of-network insurances.
Liberation Way would purchase premium insurance policies for prospective patients. Then, it billed these insurance companies for treatments they did not have and never provided.
They also paid for urine tests for patients who never took them. Jesse Peters, who was associated with the urine lab they used in Florida, is currently serving a 15 month sentence for his role. Peters sent $1.2 million in kickbacks to the Liberation Way owners.
“Those who think that they can game our health care system – which is already strained under the weight of an ongoing opioid epidemic – and prey upon vulnerable people will face the consequences,” said McSwain. “Gerner will rightly spend years in prison and pay millions of dollars as the result of his criminal conduct.”
On the surface, the rehabilitation center masqueraded as a bastion of hope for opioid addicts. But PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro alleged in May 2018 Liberation Way intended for its patients to relapse.
Some patients relapsed up to eight times due to “party homes.” Drugs were readily available to those in recovery. Authorities stated employees engaged in sexual relationships with patients.
Authorities say Domenick Braccia, 58, was the only doctor on premise. He pleaded guilty to related charges last year.
“The employees of Liberation Way looked at the opioid epidemic devastating Pennsylvania and saw an opportunity to make a buck off the backs of vulnerable people. Pennsylvanians with substance abuse disorder, who deserved care from Liberation Way, were harmed instead,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
As part of Gerner’s sentence, he must pay back $9,338,607 in restitution. He must also forfeit $444,983.