January 6, 2020
A now defunct behavioral health clinic, Tree of Life, Inc.
, and its owners and operators, Ada and Victor Vidal
, have agreed to pay $1.65 million
to settle a whistleblower's claims that they violated the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute in claims to Pennsylvania's Medicaid program. According to Erika Desjardins, the former Clinical Director, Tree of Life billed for therapy sessions where either the patient or therapist could not possibly have attended (in some cases due to a patient’s hospitalization or death), as well as therapy sessions provided by unqualified individuals. To facilitate the fraud scheme, it created fake records, including forged signatures, and improperly paid a social worker for patient referrals. As part of the settlement, the Vidals have been excluded from future participation in federal healthcare programs, and Desjardins, who had been fired for reporting internally, will receive $330,000 as their share of the recovery. USAO EDPA