INDIANAPOLIS — The former CEO of a company that operates dozens of Indiana nursing homes and three others face federal charges in a kickback scheme worth millions of dollars, according to an indictment released Wednesday morning.
Grand jurors charged former American Senior Communities CEO James Burkhart of Carmel with mail and wire fraud and money laundering. American Senior Communities fired Burkhart last September, three days after federal agents searched his home and the company’s Indianapolis headquarters.
Also charged are former company COO Daniel Benson of Fishers; Burkhart’s brother, Joshua Burkhart, of Fishers; and Burkhart’s friend, Steven Ganote, of North Salem. James Burkhart’s attorney, Larry Mackey, had no comment. Court records did not list attorneys for Benson, Joshua Burkhart or Ganote.
All four men were released from custody after an initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon where not guilty pleas were entered for each of them.
Federal prosecutors in Indianapolis said the defendants owned shell companies and used them to falsify and inflate the costs of goods and services. This allowed the defendants to steal discounts and rebates and conceal kickbacks, prosecutors said, letting them “divert, receive and launder millions of dollars for their personal benefit.”
Prosecutors said the defendants used the money to buy lavish items, such as vacation homes, diamond jewelry, Rolex watches, gold bars and coins, use of a private plane and Las Vegas casino chips. U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler called it “unbridled greed.”
The defendants used American Senior Communities’ network of about 70 nursing homes and thousands of patients to their advantage, prosecutors said.
American Senior Communities said in a statement Wednesday that it was grateful to federal officials for the indictment and that the company will continue to cooperate. The company pointed out that patient care wasn’t affected and that it has enacted safeguards and hired a new leadership team.
“ASC was the victim of a betrayal of trust by two of its former officers,” the statement said. “ASC has emerged from this process a stronger, more vital organization.”