Daniel Benson, the former chief operating officer of American Senior Communities, was sentenced Friday to nearly five years in federal prison for his role in a massive kickback scheme at Indiana’s largest chain of nursing homes.
Indiana Southern District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced the 54-year-old Benson to a 57-month sentence after a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and health care fraud; conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute; and money laundering.
Benson, of Fishers, was released after the hearing to await instructions regarding when and where he is to report to serve his sentence.
The sentencing comes one week after former ASC CEO James Burkhart was given a 9-1/2-year sentence for leading the fraud scheme.
Investigators said Burkhart and Benson, along with two others, took part in a criminal scheme between January 2009 and September 2015 that netted them $16 million.
Prosecutors say Benson used his position "to play an integral part in the sweeping conspiracy to defraud the victims in this case: the owners of ASC and Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County."
Burkhart and Benson were indicted in 2016 along with associates Steven Ganote and Joshua Burkhart, who is James Burkhart’s brother.
Authorities say the four used shell companies and inflated invoices to enrich themselves. The victims of the fraud were Indianapolis-based ASC, which is owned by the Jackson family of Indianapolis; the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County, which hired ASC to operate its nearly 70 nursing homes; and federal health care programs.
The kickbacks covered all sorts of purchased goods and services, from landscaping and nurse call lights to American flags and pharmacy and hospice services.