ELLWOOD CITY, Pa. (WKBN) – Ellwood City Medical Center (ECMC) was caught up in a Medicare fraud scheme that prosecutors say was perpetrated by a man who had control of employees and accounts at the hospital.
According to federal prosecutors, Daniel Hurt, 58, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, pay and receive unlawful kickbacks and engage in money laundering.
The scheme began in late 2018 through October 2019. ECMC closed in January 2020.
Investigators say Hurt conspired in a scheme to get Medicare clients from across the U.S. to submit cheek swabs for cancer CGx testing using DNA. The clients were recruited at “health fairs” and through cheek swabs sent to their homes.
The test detects mutations in genes that could indicate a higher risk of developing cancer in the future, but it is not a method of diagnosis.
Hurt had the specimens sent to ECMC, which did not have the capability to do the testing, but used the hospital as a billing entity for Medicare purposes. He then had employees repackage the samples and sent them to a laboratory that could process them, according to prosecutors.
Investigators said Medicare reimbursed ECMC more than $25 million for the testing. Hurt then had staff transfer millions of dollars from hospital accounts that he controlled into his own account.
He used some of the money to pay kickbacks to marketers and others in exchange for getting the testing samples from Medicare clients.
Hurt also fraudulently entered into business agreements with ECMC and its laboratory and disguised the payments as legitimate.
Some of the money went to buy a $3 million luxury boat in Florida named “In My DNA,” prosecutors said.