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Medical center owner who recruited patients from skid row gets 3 years in prison

February 22, 2010 |  5:26 pm

A former co-owner of City of Angels Medical Center was sentenced Monday to more than three years in federal prison for paying illegal kickbacks for patients recruited from the homeless on downtown’s skid row.

Robert Bourseau, 75, was sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay $4.1 million in restitution for his role in a scheme to defraud Medicare and Medi-Cal. He pleaded guilty in June to paying a recruiter to deliver homeless patients to his hospital for unnecessary medical services.

The scheme was uncovered after an investigation into alleged patient dumping in skid row. Federal prosecutors say Bourseau and a medical center co-owner, Dr. Rudra Sabaratnam, paid several hundred thousand dollars between 2004 and 2007 to recruiter Estill Mitts and others for patients.

Sabaratnam, 65, of Brentwood pleaded guilty in 2008 to paying kickbacks and is slated to be sentenced April 5. He and Bourseau have already agreed to pay $10 million to the government to settle civil litigation, prosecutors said.

Mitts, 64, who ran a downtown center recruiting homeless patients, pleaded guilty in September 2008 to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. Prosecutors allege he earned $20,000 a month in kickbacks.

A third City of Angels executive, Dante Nicholson, is awaiting sentencing in June. Last year he pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks for patient referrals.

In a related case stemming from an alleged patient recruiting scheme, a former Tustin Hospital and Medical Center executive, Vincent Rubio, 49, has also agreed to plead guilty to paying illegal kickbacks.

-- Richard Winton