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Health care CEO gets year in prison for fraud

Health care CEO gets year in prison for fraud

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ST. LOUIS • A former executive with a Chicago health care company was sentenced this week in federal court to 366 days in prison and ordered to repay $1.77 million to Medicare.

Former Aggeus Healthcare CEO James Sayadzal, 52, of Chicago, pleaded guilty last year to a conspiracy charge.

He was one of three company officers and six doctors caught up in fraud linked to podiatry services provided to residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Aggeus owner Yev Gray, 50, was sentenced Aug. 15 to 7½ years in prison and ordered to repay $6.97 million on charges of conspiracy and making a false statement relating to health care.

Gray’s wife, Natalie Gray, 44, was sentenced in February to 366 days in prison on the conspiracy charge and ordered to repay nearly $1 million. Natalie Gray was former director of corporate and legal affairs for the company.

Prosecutors say Yev Gray, who was also majority owner of Aggeus Global, carried out a broad scheme from 2009-2015 by creating an electronic medical billing system that would lead Medicare to pay for procedures that weren’t performed or wouldn’t have been covered.

The Grays used the money for a lavish lifestyle, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dorothy McMurtry has said.

Nursing homes were told that Aggeus podiatrists would treat every resident for no cost to the facility. Some Aggeus doctors then performed unnecessary procedures or billed for procedures that weren’t performed, at Gray’s urging, charging documents say.

Aggeus once had offices in 16 states and provided podiatry and other services to thousands of patients.

The investigation began when a relative of an investigator with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General questioned Aggeus services provided at a Missouri nursing home.

Podiatrists and nursing homes had complained about inaccurate medical notes or potential fraud.

Six former Aggeus-contracted podiatrists also have been charged in the case.

Dawn Rhodes-Hicks, 41, and Annessa Blackmun, 37, were both indicted in July on multiple counts of making false statements. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Robert A. Gjertson, Martin Rischall, John Dailey and Jeffrey Osbourne have pleaded guilty to a charge of making a false statement. Dailey also pleaded guilty to a health care fraud charge.

Osbourne and Rischall were sentenced to probation. Rischall was fined $30,000 and ordered to repay $51,000, and Osbourne repaid $219,413 after his sentencing hearing Tuesday. The others await sentencing.

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