New Bedford Clinical Lab, Owner Indicted in Alleged Kickback Scheme
NEW BEDFORD — A clinical laboratory in New Bedford and one of its owners have been indicted for a variety of criminal offenses relating to an alleged kickback and Medicaid fraud scheme involving sober home drug tests.
The state Attorney General's Office said Optimum Labs, Inc., which is headquartered on County Street, and 60-year-old William Owens, Jr. of New Bedford were indicted by a grand jury on Thursday for the scheme, which allegedly cost the state over $4.6 million in false claims.
Both the company and its owner were charged with three counts of false Medicaid claims, three counts of larceny over $1,200 under false pretenses, and two counts of kickbacks, bribery or rebates.
Company president Angelina Johnson declined to comment at this time.
The AG’s office alleges that Optimum referred some of its urine drug tests to two other New England laboratories in return for a percentage of collected insurance reimbursements, in violation of the state's anti-kickback law.
The two labs are Dominion Diagnostics of North Kingstown, Rhode Island and Aspenti Health of South Burlington, Vermont.
Most of Optimum’s business comprised urine drug testing to monitor the sobriety of residents at Massachusetts sober homes, according to the AG's office.
But state regulations do not allow labs to bill MassHealth for drug tests used for such purposes, because such tests are not medically necessary and are therefore not covered by MassHealth, the office noted.
Also, in many cases, the drug tests were not ordered by physicians, nurses, or an appropriate authorized prescriber.
By billing MassHealth for these tests, the office alleges, Optimum and Owens are believed to have submitted and received payment for over $4.6 million in false claims.
Arraignment is set to follow in Suffolk Superior Court.