In The News

Watsonville Nursing Home Owners, Operators and Manager Agree to Pay $3.8 Million to Settle Allegations of False Claims

You may think that false claims cases ending in million dollar settlements only involve large Fortune 500 corporations, but smaller companies commit fraud as well. The number of companies settling cases in which the integrity of their practices is being questioned seems to be multiplying by the day. The saddest part is that sometimes these cases don’t just cheat the government out of money; sometimes there are Medicare fraud cases that are said to have cost people their lives. Premature death was among the allegations filled against two nursing homes in the San Francisco Bay Area last year.

The owners, operators and manager of two Watsonville, Ca nursing homes have agreed to pay $3.8 million to settle allegations that they submitted false claims to the United States. The settlement, which was reached in May of 2015, stems from a complaint alleging that the defendants violated the Federal False Claims Act. The complaint was filed by the United States on August 29, 2014, in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. In the Complaint, the United States alleged that the aforementioned entities submitted false claims for materially substandard or worthless services to Medicare and Medical programs. Specifically, the complaint alleges that between 2007 and 2012, the defendants persistently overmedicated elderly and vulnerable residents of the nursing homes, causing infection, sepsis, malnutrition, dehydration, falls, fractures, pressure ulcers, and for some residents, premature death. The named defendants are the nursing homes—Country Villa Watsonville East Nursing Center (renamed Watsonville Nursing Center in April 2014) and Country Villa Watsonville West Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (renamed Watsonville Post-Acute Center in April 2014); the for-profit entities that own and operate the nursing homes, CF Watsonville East, LLC and CF Watsonville West, LLC; the entities responsible for the management of the nursing homes under consulting agreements with the owners, Country Villa Health Service Corporation, dba Country Villa Health Services.

“This case demonstrates our continued commitment to investigate, and hold accountable, individuals and organizations seeking to victimize the elderly through the misuse of taxpayer funded Medicare and Medical programs,” said Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office.

Deciding whether or not to be a False Claims Act whistleblower is a difficult choice. But cases such as this one show us that reporting Medicare fraud in particular could potentially save a life. If you’re not sure where to begin, there are a number of government agencies, such as your local Department of Public Health, that can help you understand how to report Medicare Fraud.