Usually when we write a Medicaid fraud story we report how the money from taxpayers stolen from taxpayers was used to support the fraudsters lavish lifestyle. Beaches houses, private jet charters, fancy cards and stadium skybox seats. Not with Erv Brinker. The former CEO of Summit Pointe is cooling his heels in prison. His crime? Using money earmarked for mental health services on a psychic.
Erv Brinker once ran Summit Pointe, a Michigan mental health agency. In July of last year he was charged by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office with two counts of Medicaid fraud conspiracy and one count of embezzlement by a public official. Prosecutors claim that Brinker stole Medicaid money earmarked for the agency and used it to pay a personal psychic.
Last November he pleaded guilty to felony charges and agreed to pay $510,000 in restitution and an additional $510,000 penalty. He also agreed to forfeit his pension. Under the terms of a plea agreement, Brinker expected to receive 17 months in prison.
Brinker’s hopes for a short jail sentence were dashed earlier this year when Circuit Court Judge William Collette refused to honor the recommended sentencing guideline sentence. Instead Collette sentenced Brinker to an indeterminate sentence of 32 to 120 months of prison.
In rejecting the guideline sentence, Collette remarked that the recommended sentence was “absolutely ridiculous.”
“What really troubles me, and I’ve said it 100 times,” Collette said, “I get some kid in here that steals 50 bucks out of a gas station with a loaded pistol and I have to send him to prison. I get a guy that steals $510,000… and they recommend zero to 17 months.”
Medicaid fraud wasn’t Brinker’s only problem, although it was landed him in prison. Brinker was initially investigated for creating a very generous pension plan without approval of the agency’s board. That plan gave some executives a pension of $245,000 per year.
It’s been one year since Brinker was charged. Unfortunately, a recent news article says that Summit Pointe has yet to receive the restitution from Brinker. Not suprising since he is still in prison.
Medicaid Fraud and the Need for Whistleblowers
Medicaid fraud is not a victimless crime. Because Medicaid is paid with tax dollars, any fraud loss becomes the responsibility of taxpayers. Hard working men and women like you.
Not only are taxpayers out over one half a million dollars paid to the psychic, press reports say the cost to audit, investigate and prosecute Brinker cost an additional $1 million. Money that could have been spent on healthcare for the truly needy.
Michigan is one of 30 states and the District of Columbia that has a state false claims act. Called the Michigan Medicaid False Claims Act, the law pays whistleblowers between 15% and 30% of whatever the government recovers from wrongdoers. In 2014, whistleblowers received almost one half billion dollars in whistleblower awards. (Our clients received over $100 million.)
To qualify for an award, you must have inside information about fraud involving taxpayer funded healthcare programs. You also must generally be the first to file a sealed lawsuit in court. Lawyers that concentrate in these claims often handle them on a contingent fee basis meaning they only get paid if you collect an award.
Most big Medicaid frauds are stopped because of a whistleblower (this case is an exception). In fact, the feds say that 81% of the bad guys they catch (and women too) are the results of whistleblowers.
If you have information about Medicaid or Medicare fraud, give us a call. Our mission is to help you stop the fraud, obtain the largest award allowed by law and protect you from retaliation. All inquiries are kept confidential and protected by the attorney – client privilege. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). You can also visit our Medicare / Medicaid whistleblower page.
MahanyLaw – America’s Medicaid Fraud Whistleblower Lawyers